Syria hails Russian S-300 system for minimizing threat of Israeli airstrikes
(AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)
The Syrian army says the delivery of Russian S-300 air defense systems has minimized the possibility of Israeli success in attacks, Kremlin-backed Sputnik newspaper reported Thursday.
Earlier this week, Israel’s Environmental Protection Minister, Ze’ev Elkin, warned Russia that its newly deployed missile defense system would be the target of airstrikes if Bashar al-Assad’s army decides to make use of it against Israeli airplanes conducting operations in the war torn country.
The Syrian Army’s political head Brig. Gen. Ahmad Hasan told Sputnik that the air defense systems did not remove or tamper the risks of Israeli air attacks in Syria, but the S-300s did minimize the possibility of their success.
Hasan explained that although it was impossible to reduce the probability of attacks to zero,“the probability of this aggression achieving its goals has been minimized.”
"There is no concept of zero probability in military strategy. We cannot say that this probability has been reduced to zero. Because we are talking about open skies, extended borders, various technologies…” Hasan responded in an interview when asked about how the S-300 deliveries impacted the possibility of new attacks. “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."
Moscow’s announcement of providing the Syrian army with its S-300 missile defense system came on the heels of an incident that sparked a diplomatic crisis between Russia and Israel. In September, a Russian plane was mistakenly downed by Syrian air defense, killing 15 serviceman on board, during an Israeli air strike in Latakia.
Russia blamed the downing of its plane on Israel for not notifying it about its airstrikes in time for the Russian plane to steer clear of any danger.
After Russia entered the Syrian war in 2015, backing Assad against rebels, Jerusalem and Moscow opened a direct communication line to avoid any clashes when Israeli airplanes were carrying out airstrikes.
Israel has admitted that it carried out more than 200 airstrikes and 800 missiles in Syria over the last year, many of which it claimed were targeting Iranian positions and convoys transferring weapons to Hezbollah, the Iranian backed proxy operating in Syria.
Following the downed Russian plane incident, Israel was deeply apologetic to the Kremlin, but Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman vowed that Israel would not change its policies in Syria.
Israel’s military said it was targeting a Syrian regime military facility housing weapons to be transported to Lebanese Hezbollah, Iran’s main Shi’ite proxy in the region. It insists Moscow was warned of the air raid in accordance with deconfliction agreements.
In an interview with Israel’s public broadcaster in September, Lieberman said that "we acted and act with discretion and responsibly, and only in cases where we have no other choice. Therefore, nothing has changed, nor will it change. This is our policy.”
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