The delivery of the Russian S-300 surface-to-air missile system to Syria has already begun, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday at a news conference at the United Nations, according to Reuters.
Russia announced earlier this week it would upgrade Syria’s anti-air defense network and send the S-300 system there, following the downing of a Russian military aircraft in Syrian airspace last week.
Last Tuesday, an IL-20 reconnaissance aircraft was reported missing over Syria, following an Israeli airstrike on a military research facility in northern Syria.
The plane, which was carrying 15 crew members, was later declared lost, after apparently being downed by a Syria surface-to-air missile.
Russian officials blamed Israel for the downing of the IL-20, saying the IDF had provided just one-minute advance notice of the impending airstrike to Russian Defense Ministry officials, adding that the Israeli fighter jets had used the IL-20 to draw the Syrian air defense network’s fire.
Israel denied the claims, saying its jets were already out of the combat zone and in Israeli airspace when the IL-20 was downed, and that the IL-20 had been far from the area of the airstrikes during the Israeli operation.
An IDF delegation was dispatched to Moscow last week to share information collected by Israel as part of its investigation into the incident.
Israel has made repeated efforts to persuade Moscow not to sell the S-300s to Syria, as it fears this would hinder its aerial capabilities against arms shipments to the Hezbollah terrorist group.
The missile system, originally developed by the Soviet military, but since modernized and available in several versions with significantly different capabilities, fires missiles from trucks and is designed to shoot down military aircraft and short and medium-range ballistic missiles.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)