Rus­sia be­gins mis­sile sys­tem de­liv­ery to Syria

The Gulf Today - - MIDDLE EAST -

UNITED NA­TIONS: RUS­SIAN FOR­EIGN Min­is­ter Sergei Lavrov said on Fri­day Moscow had started de­liv­er­ing the S-300 sur­face-to-air mis­sile sys­tem to Syria and warned Western pow­ers of try­ing to un­der­mine Un-led ef­forts to end the seven-year conlict.

De­fence Min­is­ter Sergei Shoigu had said on Mon­day the sys­tem would be de­liv­ered to Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar Al As­sad’s forces in two weeks de­spite strong Is­raeli and United States ob­jec­tions. A week pre­vi­ously, Moscow had ac­cused Is­rael of in­di­rectly caus­ing the down­ing of a Rus­sian mil­i­tary jet in Syria.

“The de­liv­ery started al­ready and as Pres­i­dent (Vladimir) putin said, af­ter that in­ci­dent ... the mea­sures that we will take will be de­voted to en­sur­ing 100 per cent safety and se­cu­rity of our men,” Lavrov told a news con­fer­ence at the United Na­tions.

Rus­sia, along with Iran, has helped As­sad re­cover huge amounts of lost ter­ri­tory in Syria with­out per­suad­ing him to agree to any po­lit­i­cal re­forms. It has also pushed its own talks with Iran and Turkey, known as the As­tana process, as Un­led peace ne­go­ti­a­tions have stalled.

Some diplo­mats have said the Is­raeli in­ci­dent and a Turk­ish Rus­sian deal to sus­pend an of­fen­sive on the last rebel-held strong­hold of Idlib could pro­vide a win­dow to push for the im­ple­men­ta­tion of UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tion 2254 that cov­ers end­ing conlict in Syria.

The UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, which in­cludes Rus­sia and the United States, has man­dated UN en­voy Staffan de Mis­tura to get a deal on a new con­sti­tu­tion, new elec­tions and a re­form of Syria’s gov­er­nance.

De Mis­tura’s irst task is the for­ma­tion of a con­sti­tu­tional com­mit­tee to de­cide whom to pick. He has said he will se­lect about 50 peo­ple, in­clud­ing sup­port­ers of the gov­ern­ment, the op­po­si­tion and in­de­pen­dents to par­tic­i­pate, but so far the Syr­ian gov­ern­ment has re­jected the idea.

Meet­ing in New York on Thurs­day, for­eign min­is­ters from the United States, Egypt, France, Ger­many, Jor­dan, Bri­tain and Saudi Ara­bia called on de Mis­tura to con­vene the con­sti­tu­tional com­mit­tee and re­port back on progress by the end of Oc­to­ber.

Lavrov ac­cused the group of try­ing to un­der­mine the As­tana ef­forts and putting pres­sure on de Mis­tura so that they could im­pose their own res­o­lu­tion of the conlict, de­scrib­ing it as “a grave mis­take.”

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