Russia sends S-300 system to Syria

Russia sends the S-300 anti-missile system to its naval facility in the Syrian city of Tartus.

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S-300
S-300
Reuters

Russia's defense ministry said Tuesday it had sent an S-300 missile system to its naval facility in the Syrian city of Tartus, a measure it says is meant to bolster its security.

"The S-300 anti-aircraft missile system has indeed been sent to the Syrian Arab Republic," defense ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a statement quoted by the AFP news agency.

"I remind you that the S-300 is a purely defensive system and poses no threat to anyone,” he added. "It's not clear why the placement of S-300 in Syria has caused such a stir among our western colleagues.”

The S-300 system is a series of long range surface-to-air missile systems that was developed to intercept ballistic missiles.

It has already made headlines in the context of Russia’s sale of the system to Iran.

Russia's sale of the S-300 systems to Iran, originally agreed upon in 2007, has been repeatedly delayed due to Western pressure given that UN nuclear sanctions ban the delivery to Iran.

Last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree lifting a ban on the delivery of the S-300 systems to Iran, and explaining that his decision was motivated by Iran's drive to find a solution in talks over its nuclear program, which led to a controversial nuclear deal last July.

Since then there have been repeated reports that the delivery of the missile systems was imminent. The last report, in July, said the contract will be implemented by March of 2017.

Tuesday’s announcement regarding the sending of the missile system to Syria came as talks on reviving a failed ceasefire were suspended by Washington over Moscow's support of the regime in Damascus.

Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said the Russian missile system would not affect operations in the U.S.-led air campaign against the Islamic State (ISIS) group in northern Syria, and questioned why Moscow was making the move.

"Last I checked, the Russians said that their primary goal was to fight extremism, ISIL and Nusra, in Syria," he said, referring to ISIS and another group formerly known as Al-Nusra Front.

"Neither one has an air force... So this is something we'll watch carefully. But it should be clear to the Russians and everybody else operating in Syria how seriously we take the safety of our air crews," added Cook, according to AFP.

Moscow has been accused of indiscriminately bombing Aleppo's opposition-controlled east as it helps an offensive currently being conducted by Syrian regime forces to capture all of the country's second city.

Russia has also denied that its strikes have hit hospitals and other civilian facilities in spite of reports to the contrary.

In addition to operating a naval facility in Tartus, Russia runs an air base outside the Syrian coastal city of Latakia, which currently houses war planes used in Moscow's bombing campaign in support of long-time ally Bashar Al-Assad.

A senior Russian official said in August that Russia was planning to expand its Hmeimim Air Base in Syria into a permanent military facility.

The air base already has an S-400 air defense system, the most modern in Russia's arsenal.

AFP contributed to this report.








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