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Russian Delivery of New Missile Defence System to Syria Likely to Change Balance of Power
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Russia has completed delivery of a S-300 surface-to-air missile system to Syria in a move likely to change the balance of forces in the skies over the Syrian battlefields.

“The work was finished a day ago,” Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu told President Vladimir Putin in a meeting broadcast on television.

The decision to supply the sophisticated anti-aircraft system came in response to the shooting down of a Russian Ilyushin reconnaissance plane with the loss of all 15 on board by Syria on 17 September in an incident 22 miles off the Syrian coast for which Russia holds Israel ultimately responsible.

The friendly fire loss of the Russian plane is unsurprising since three of the world’s most powerful air forces – Russia, US and Israel – are frequently flying in or close to Syrian air space. In addition, there are Turkish and Syrian planes, backed up, in the case of Syria, by a ground-to-air defence system. With five air forces operating in close proximity some mishap always appeared inevitable.

Israel has expressed regret at the death of the Russian air force personnel and is concerned that the S-300s may make it more risky for its planes to continue a campaign against Iranian facilities in Syria. The missiles have the capacity to track dozens of targets at a distance of hundreds of miles. The state-owned manufacturer Almaz-Antey says they can also shoot down cruise and ballistic missiles.

Israel has long sought to prevent the delivery of the S-300s to Iran and Syria. Iran did buy the system in 2007 but it was only delivered in 2016.

“We have not changed our strategic line on Iran,” said Israeli education minister Naftali Bennett, a member of prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security cabinet. “We will not allow Iran to open up a third front against us. We will take actions as required.”

Mr Putin has succeeded hitherto in maintaining good relations and a high level of cooperation with Syria, Turkey and Israel, despite their conflicting objectives in Syria.

Relations between Israel and Russia have been frayed by the 17 September shoot down when the Russians claimed that Israeli F-16s had used the reconnaissance flight of the Russian plane off Latakia to make an attack.

More is at stake than future Israeli air operations over Syria. US military power in the northern tier of the Middle East – notably in Syria and Iraq – stems primarily from the massive destructive power of its air force and its ability to use its planes and missiles at will.

This strategy worked successfully in the campaign against Isis in both countries in 2014-18 when local ground troops – the Kurds in Syria and government security forces in Iraq – defeated Isis thanks to US air support. Any radical improvement in Syrian air defences reduces US military options.

The US could not confirm yesterday that the S-300 missile batteries had been delivered. But the Russian Defence Ministry has published a video of the launcher, radar and command and control vehicle being unloaded.

Moscow will also support and upgrade Syrian electronic defences.


Syria hopes that Israel will be less free in future to carry air attacks on Syrian territory. Syria’s deputy foreign minister Faisal Mekdad said that: “Israel, which has gotten used to carrying out attacks under various pretexts, will now have to weigh and rethink before attacking again.”

The S-300 missiles will at the very least make Israel more cautious and less likely to take for granted Russian acquiescence in Israeli operations against Iran in Syria. It has also deployed the even more advanced S-400 missile batteries to its own bases in Syria.

Israel gives advanced warning to the Russians of any of its air actions in or close to Syria which has allowed some 200 attacks since the start of 2017 to be carried out in relative safety.

A Russian complaint about the shooting down of the Ilyushin reconnaissance plane is that only one minute’s warning was given. This was too short a period for them to alert the Syrians as to what was happening. An explanation for this could be that the Russians and Syrians must inevitably inform their Iranian allies about Israeli intentions leading Israel to keep the warning time as short as possible.

The shooting down of the Russian aircraft and the delivery of the S-300 is a sign that the military balance is changing to the advantage of the Syrian government.

Since the end of 2016, President Bashar al-Assad has recaptured the most important armed opposition strongholds in East Aleppo, East Ghouta and Deraa, leaving only one, the large opposition enclave in Idlib untaken. He can now focus more time to pushing back against Israeli military operations affecting Syria.

Israel and the US continue to speak of the build up of Iranian influence either directly or through local proxies in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. But Iranian influence probably peaked in Syria and Iraq in 2015 when governments in both countries were under intense military pressure from Isis and needed all the foreign help they could get. Israeli attacks will not stop, but they will be riskier.

(Republished from The Independent by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Israel, Russia, Syria 
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  1. Israel gives advanced warning to the Russians of any of its air actions in or close to Syria which has allowed some 200 attacks since the start of 2017 to be carried out in relative safety

    ‘…any of its air actions’ implies a 100 per cent warning rate. According to the Russian Defence Ministry, the Israeli warning rate is about ten per cent:

    ‘Russia has sent as many as 310 notifications to the Israeli Air Force Command, while the latter appeared to be reluctant to show the same level of commitment, notifying only 25 times even though its jets carried out more than 200 strikes against targets located in Syria over the past 18 months alone.’

  2. jimbim says:

    “Israel gives advanced warning to the Russians of any of its air actions in or close to Syria”
    That is not true, Israel only notified Russia 25 times of the over 200 air attacks.
    Russia notified Israel 310 times.
    The arrogance of Israel is beyond belief.

    • Replies: @Longfisher
    , @LIbertyRising
  3. The Scalpel says: • Website

    “Israel … is concerned that the S-300s may make it more risky for its planes to continue a campaign against Iranian facilities in Syria. ”

    That is the point, I think.

    “Independent” meh…

  4. Anonymous[346] • Disclaimer says:

    Israel doesn’t expect any problem with its continued bombing of Syria.

    Israeli strikes in Syria to continue despite S-300 delivery, Netanyahu says

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he has informed Russian officials that the Tel Aviv will continue to hit targets inside Syria, irrespective of Moscow’s decision to deliver advanced S-300 surface-to-air missile systems to the Damascus government.

    Russia’s RT Arabic television news network reported that Syrian soldiers made the discovery at the Panorama roundabout in the northwestern flank of the city, located about 455 kilometers (283 miles) northeast of the capital Damascus, and that the grave has the corpses of at least 1,500 civilians and military personnel in it.

    The report added that responders are working to uncover and identify bodies at the site from clothes, fingerprints, documents or other special markers.

    The mass grave makes it the largest one found in Raqqah so far.

    Syrian Forensic Medicine General Director Zaher Hajo told Arabic-language and pro-government al-Watan daily in early January that Daesh Takfiris had executed 10,000 people and buried their bodies in mass graves across Raqqah.

    He stressed that his colleagues had confirmed the presence of 4,000 bodies in one single grave.

    Hajo went on to say that Syrian Health Minister Nizar Yazigi has ordered the formation of a committee in order to collect the remains of the victims and transfer them to the military hospital in Aleppo.

    He stated that identification of the victims, using their teeth and bones, will start next week, stressing that he will chair the committee.

    The so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – a US-backed group of Kurdish and Arab forces – said on October 20, 2017 that it had “liberated” Raqqah after driving out Daesh terrorists from the city, which served as Daesh’s de facto capital in the war-ravaged Arab country.

    The US-backed forces later said the political future of the city and the province of the same name would be determined “within the framework of a decentralized, federal, democratic Syria.”

    SDF spokesman Talal Silo said that the group would hand over the control of Raqqah to what he called “the Raqqah Civil Council.”

    Syrian Minister of National Reconciliation Affairs Ali Haidar reacted by saying that Raqqah’s future could only be discussed “as part of the final political structure of the Syrian state.”

    The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) has, meanwhile, said that the SDF’s purported operations in Raqqah have killed civilians and damaged infrastructure in the city.

    “When you’re killing around 1,200 civilians — nearly half of them women and children — and destroying 80 percent of the city, that’s not liberating Raqqah,” Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the SOHR, told Arab News daily newspaper.

  5. @jimbim

    The arrogance of Israel will one day be rewarded with…

  6. HBM says:

    We’ve heard this story about the game-changing S-300/400 multiple times now.

    Also: didn’t Russia try to deliver some in Syria fairly recently and Israel blew them up before they could be deployed?

    • Replies: @Per/Norway
  7. Anon[631] • Disclaimer says:

    “Also: didn’t Russia try to deliver some in Syria fairly recently and Israel blew them up before they could be deployed?”

    Those were never delivered. Please try to know what you are talking about before giving an opinion.

    “Israel doesn’t expect any problem with its continued bombing of Syria.”

    That’s just what they are saying to save face. Those S-300s aren’t operational by trained Syrian crews yet. That will change in the next year.

  8. Virgile says:

    Putting more sanctions on Iran will simply make the Iranians more than ever determined to stay in Syria and threaten Israel.
    Israel is terrified of having a third powerful front in addition to Lebanon and Gaza. Israelis will be under very heavy pressure to make serious compromises on the ME plan elaborated by the ‘genius’ Jared Kushner , probably to be revealed after the mid term.
    Isreal has never been in such a weak position. It may start a war just to change the dynamics.

    • Replies: @Per/Norway
  9. Minamoto says:

    It is very likely that Israel’s behaviour in Syria will change drastically as a result of the S-300 systems. While Israel and NATO have used older versions S-300 (from Greece) to practice their tactics, these won’t be much help. The export versions of the S-300 were quite different from the Soviet/Russian ones. In addition, the Greek S-300 were not upgraded or maintained.

    Israel only has a few F-35 stealth jets, less than 10, that is not enough to launch an overwhelming attack to destroy the four battalions delivered by Russia. Israel will keep F-35 away from harm. In addition, the Pentagon doesn’t want to lose any F-35 so early in the product’s life cycle as it would lead to order cancellations: why buy F-35 when a Soviet-designed missiles system can take them down as easily as a 747?

    • Replies: @Carroll Price
  10. @HBM

    ? in your mind maybe,, not in the real world tho..
    they blew up a empty ad battery on a airfield with much following boasting and hoopla a while ago. And they kept trying to tell us they blow up “Iranian zooper zekret” bomb storages and kill terrorist killing invited Iranian soldiers. but no S-300 have been “destroyed” by the zionist entity occupying Palestine, the ones that where there are Russian ad units deployed around their bases and other Russian high value targets.

  11. @Virgile

    “It will start a war just tot ry to change the dynamics.”

    It will do them no good tho, the muslims have started to realize their numbers, the Shia and Hezbollah leads the way.
    Try to read about Imam Hossain (pbuh) and Arbaèen, the narrative writers DO NOT want you to know about Arbaèen btw, it ruins their “wahabi safists=Islam=all muslims are terrorist” story line! The story of a family`s death in Karbala will also teach you ALOT about Shia muslims and their mindset and why the zionist entity stand no chance to survive..


    40 Million people arrive in Karbala for Arbaeen 2017 (1min)

    Rum: The Muslim Christian alliance (one of the reasons how i got curious about this stuff, the other reason is eschatology.)

  12. @Minamoto

    The F-35 will prove itself an expensive, inoperable propaganda tool.

  13. @jimbim

    “The arrogance of Israel is beyond belief.” You’re joking, right? What would be beyond belief would be a LACK of arrogance on the part of people who believe that the rest of the world are just dogs or servants of the master race.

  14. @per Norway. Three very interesting videos. Thanks!

  15. Freddy says:

    “The arrogance of Israel will one day be rewarded with…”

    Even more American tax dollars.

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