Rus­sia sends mis­sile sys­tem to Syria

The Myanmar Times - - World -

RUS­SIA has sent an ad­vanced mis­sile sys­tem to the Syr­ian port of Tar­tus, as ten­sions es­ca­late be­tween it and the US over the five-year con­flict.

The an­nounce­ment came af­ter Wash­ing­ton said it was sus­pend­ing talks with Mos­cow aimed at re­viv­ing a cease­fire deal over Rus­sia’s sup­port for the regime of Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar al-As­sad.

On the ground, Mr As­sad’s forces ad­vanced on rebels dur­ing street fight­ing in the op­po­si­tion-held east of Aleppo city, which Rus­sia has been ac­cused of bomb­ing in­dis­crim­i­nately in­clud­ing tar­get­ting its hospi­tals.

Rus­sia, which has de­nied its strikes have hit hospi­tals, said it was de­ploy­ing an S-300 mis­sile sys­tem to Tar­tus on the Mediter­ranean coast.

“The S-300 is a purely de­fen­sive sys­tem and poses no threat to any­one,” said de­fence min­istry spokesper­son Igor Konashenkov. “It’s not clear why the place­ment of S-300 in Syria has caused such a stir among our Western col­leagues.”

As well as op­er­at­ing a naval fa­cil­ity in Tar­tus, Rus­sia runs an air base out­side the Syr­ian coastal city of Latakia, which cur­rently houses war­planes used in its bomb­ing cam­paign in sup­port of Mr As­sad.

Pen­tagon spokesper­son Peter Cook said the Rus­sian mis­sile sys­tem would not af­fect op­er­a­tions in the US-led air cam­paign against the Is­lamic State 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 the IS.

“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.”

The Syr­ian army an­nounced a ma­jor Rus­sian-backed mil­i­tary push nearly two weeks ago to cap­ture the east­ern half of Aleppo, once the coun­try’s com­mer­cial hub.

UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein de­cried the “ghastly avalanche of vi­o­lence and de­struc­tion” in east Aleppo, say­ing 100 chil­dren had been killed in the past 10 days.

He urged the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil to in­tro­duce a limit on its mem­bers’ veto power, to pre­vent coun­tries like Rus­sia block­ing the re­fer­ral of Syria’s con­flict to the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court in The Hague. –

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