S-300 min­i­miz­ing chances of suc­cess­ful Is­raeli strikes, Syr­ian of­fi­cial says

The Jerusalem Post - - NEWS - • By ANNA AHRONHEIM

The de­ploy­ment of Rus­sia’s ad­vanced S-300 anti-air­craft sys­tems to Syria has min­i­mized the chances of suc­cess­ful Is­raeli air strikes, a se­nior Syr­ian of­fi­cer said Thurs­day.

“There is no con­cept of zero prob­a­bil­ity in mil­i­tary strat­egy,” Syr­ian Army po­lit­i­cal bureau head Brig.-Gen. Hasan Ah­mad Hasan told Rus­sia’s Sput­nik News. “We can­not say that this prob­a­bil­ity has been re­duced to zero, be­cause we are talk­ing about open skies, ex­tended borders, var­i­ous tech­nolo­gies... There­fore, I can­not say that in the end there will not be such a prob­a­bil­ity, how­ever, the prob­a­bil­ity of this ag­gres­sion achiev­ing its goals has been min­i­mized.”

Rus­sia de­liv­ered the launcher, radar and com­mand and con­trol ve­hi­cle of the ad­vanced air-to-sur­face mis­sile sys­tem to Syria in early Oc­to­ber. The de­liv­ery was a re­sponse to the down­ing of a Rus­sian re­con­nais­sance plane by Syr­ian air de­fenses dur­ing an Is­raeli air strike on Ira­nian tar­gets dur­ing the pre­vi­ous month.

The sys­tem was de­ployed to Masyaf in north­west­ern Syria.

Moscow said it would also im­pose elec­tronic coun­ter­mea­sures over Syria’s coast­line to sup­press satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion, on­board radar sys­tems and com­mu­ni­ca­tions of war­planes at­tack­ing tar­gets on Syr­ian ter­ri­tory.

On Wed­nes­day, Rus­sia’s News Agency re­ported that Rus­sian tech­ni­cal spe­cial­ists com­pleted the re­con­fig­u­ra­tion of the sys­tem to re­place the Rus­sian codes and let­ter fre­quen­cies of the ground radar to the let­ter codes and radars to Syr­ian ones.

“All three bat­tal­ions armed with S-300PMU-2 sys­tems are ready for com­bat oper­a­tion in Syria. Syr­ian mil­i­tary per­son­nel are now to be in­structed in their use,” the agency quoted a mil­i­tary source as say­ing.

Moscow has laid the blame for the plane’s down­ing with 15 ser­vice­men aboard solely on Is­rael, say­ing that Is­raeli air force jets used the plane to shield them­selves from Syr­ian anti-air­craft sys­tems, and that Jerusalem failed to no­tify Moscow of its aerial move­ments by the agreed de­con­flic­tion mech­a­nism.

The in­ci­dent has led to one of the low­est points in the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Jerusalem and Moscow in years. On Wed­nes­day, US en­voy to Syria James Jef­fery told re­porters that he hopes Rus­sia will con­tinue to al­low Is­rael to at­tack Ira­nian tar­gets in Syria.

“In the past Rus­sia has been per­mis­sive in con­sul­ta­tion with the Is­raelis about Is­raeli strikes against Ira­nian tar­gets in­side Syria. We cer­tainly hope that per­mis­sive ap­proach will con­tinue,” he said.

Is­rael has ad­mit­ted to hav­ing car­ried out more than 200 air strikes against Ira­nian tar­gets in Syria and fired more than 800 mis­siles and mor­tar shells over the past year and a half. Nev­er­the­less, there has been a drop in al­leged Is­raeli air strikes in Syria fol­low­ing the down­ing of the Rus­sian plane.

On Tues­day, En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Min­is­ter Ze’ev Elkin, who is also co-chair of the Rus­sia-Is­rael In­ter­gov­ern­men­tal Com­mis­sion, told Rus­sia’s TASS News Agency that if the sys­tems would be tar­geted, the Syr­i­ans would use the S-300s to bring down Is­raeli planes.

“Con­sid­er­ing the mess that is go­ing on in the Syr­ian Army, ship­ping S-300s might lead to desta­bi­liza­tion of the sit­u­a­tion. The Syr­i­ans, if they ever want to, might use [th­ese sys­tems] to down an Is­raeli mil­i­tary or com­mer­cial plane over Is­raeli ter­ri­tory,” Elkin said.

“Usu­ally, Is­rael re­acts to at­tacks on its ter­ri­tory and its air­crafts not through in­ter­na­tional de­marches, but with prac­ti­cal ac­tions. Ac­tions would un­doubt­edly take place, should [an at­tack] oc­cur against the launch­ers used to at­tack Is­raeli ter­ri­tory or Is­raeli planes,” Elkin added, warn­ing that Rus­sia bears “par­tial re­spon­si­bil­ity” for the use of the sys­tem.

(Maxim Sheme­tov/Reuters)

RUS­SIAN SER­VICE­MEN rest on top of an ar­mored per­son­nel car­rier as S-300 air de­fense mis­sile sys­tems launch mis­siles dur­ing an air show out­side As­trakhan, Rus­sia.

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