Advanced Russian missile launchers that Israel was trying to prevent from falling into Syrian hands have already been transferred to President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, the London-based Arabic-language Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper reported Tuesday.
The report was published as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu took off to Russia to convince President Vladimir Putin not to sell advanced Russian missile launchers to Syria.
According to the Al-Quds Al-Arabi report, 200 launchers for advanced anti-aircraft S-300 missiles are already in Syrian hands, and Syrian experts have been fully trained to use the launchers and no longer need Russian supervision.
The report, cited by JNS, was attributed to a Syrian military official.
Israel fears that Syrian possession of the S-300 system, which is able to intercept drones and cruise missiles, will make future aerial offensives by the Jewish state more difficult, in addition to the possibility of Russian weaponry being obtained by the Hizbullah terror group.
“Anyone who provides weaponry to terror organizations is siding with terror,” Tourism Minister Uzi Landau said Monday, according to JNS. He accused Russia of destabilizing the Middle East by selling weapons to Syria.
The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Israel had warned the United States that Russia plans to sell these advanced weapons to Syria, and that Netanyahu spoke with U.S. President Barack Obama to make him aware of the deal.
Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, subsequently said his country is not planning to supply Syria with any weapons beyond the current contracts that are nearing completion.
Following their meeting Tuesday, Netanyahu and Putin spoke to the press, but Netanyahu did not indicate whether he succeeded in convincing Putin to halt arms supplies to Syria or whether the two leaders reached any firm agreements.
Speaking to reporters, Netanyahu stressed that his country's task was to "defend its citizens."
"Together we are trying to find ways to strengthen stability and security, we have a remarkable opportunity to directly speak with each other," the Israeli premier was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.
Water and Energy Minister Silvan Shalom said on Monday that Netanyahu was "fully determined" to halt sales by Russia of advanced missiles to Syria.
"Such a sale to Syria would alter the balance of forces in the region and these weapons could fall into the hands of Hizbullah," Shalom said.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of the Shavuot holiday in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)