Russian warships that have reached waters off Syria in recent days were carrying, among other things, Russian technical advisors who will help the Syrians set up an array of S-300 missiles Damascus has received in recent weeks, a report in the London-based Arabic language Al Quds-Al Arabi said Thursday. Citing sources in Syria and Russia, the paper said that Moscow sees a Western attack on Syria as a “red line” that it will not tolerate.
Despite the mounting opposition in the West and even in the Arab world against Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad for his assaults on protesters seeking to unseat him as leader of the country, Russia maintains its support for Assad, the report said. Russian and Syria military officials are working together to maintain Assad's rule, and to deflect a possible attack by NATO or the U.S and EU.
Along with the missiles, the report says that Russia has installed advanced radar systems in all key Syrian military and industrial installations. The radar system also covers areas north and south of Syria, where it will be able to detect movement of troops or aircraft towards the Syrian border. The radar targets include much of Israel, as well as the Incirlik military base in Turkey, which is used by NATO.
The S-300 system is regarded as one of the most potent anti-aircraft missile systems available. The system's radar is able to simultaneously track up to 100 targets while engaging up to 12. Deployment time for the S-300 is five minutes, and they have a very long life span, with no maintenance needed.
Russia had attempted to sell the system to Iran, but that sale was cancelled due to pressure by the U.S. and Israel, with Russia returning Iran's deposit. According to the report, the Iranians paid for Syria's S-300 missile system. It is not known if some of the missiles have reached Iran as well.