News / Middle East

    Russia Says Missile System for Syria Will Deter Foreign Attacks

    Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missile system is on display in an undisclosed location in Russia (file photo)Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missile system is on display in an undisclosed location in Russia (file photo)
    x
    Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missile system is on display in an undisclosed location in Russia (file photo)
    Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missile system is on display in an undisclosed location in Russia (file photo)
    VOA News
    A senior Russian diplomat says Moscow plans to provide advanced air defenses to Damascus to deter foreign military action against Syria's pro-Russian government, which is embroiled in a civil war.
     
    Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Tuesday the planned transfer of S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will be a "stabilizing factor" for the country. 
     
    Russia's S-300 Missiles

    • Surface-to-air anti-aircraft missile
    • Vertical launch, short deployment time
    • Range up to 150 kilometers
    • 7.5 meters long
    • Developed in the1960s, 1970s by the then-Soviet Union
    • Several variants are manufactured
    He told reporters that Moscow believes the sale will deter what he called "some hotheads" from considering options to send foreign forces to intervene in the Syrian conflict. 
     
    But Ryabkov gave no indication of when Russia will transfer the air defense system. Damascus signed a contract to buy it several years ago. 
     
    Israel and the United States have urged Russia not to proceed with the sale, fearing the air defense system will threaten Israeli security and complicate any military action they may take in Syria.

    Watch related video by Henry Ridgwell:

    Arms Debate Heats Up as Syria War Widensi
    X
    May 28, 2013 8:08 PM
    Amid widening Lebanese involvement in fighting in Syria - witnessed in the battle for the western Syrian town of Qusair -- Russia confirmed Tuesday that it will sell advanced anti-aircraft missiles to the Syrian government. It comes a day after the EU voted to allow the supply of weapons to the Syrian opposition. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
    Israel's warning
     
    Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon toughened that message on Tuesday, warning of possible retaliation if the Russian missile technology is transferred. 
     
    "Obviously from our perspective it is a threat at this stage," he said. "I cannot affirm that things have been expedited. The shipments are not on their way yet, this I can say. I hope they will not leave and if, God forbid, they reach Syria, we will know what to do."
     
    Western sources said Israel carried out several air strikes in Syria earlier this month, apparently to stop the Syrian government from transferring sophisticated weapons to the pro-Assad Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. Israel has neither confirmed nor denied responsibility for the strikes. 
     
    The Russian deputy foreign minister also criticized an EU decision to lift its arms embargo on the main opposition Syrian National Coalition while maintaining sanctions against the Syrian government. 
     
    Ryabkov accused the 27-nation bloc of "pouring more fuel on the fire" of Syria's civil war and "damaging" prospects for a U.S. and Russian-proposed peace conference to resolve the two-year conflict. 
     
    EU action
     
    EU Arms Embargo for Syria

    • No longer forbids supplying arms to Syria's opposition forces
    • No immediate arms shipments are planned
    • Safeguards would ensure supplies are for protection of civilians
    • Arms embargo was part of package of sanctions imposed in 2011
    • EU plans further sanctions on President Bashar al-Assad's government
    The EU decided to lift the embargo on Syrian rebels at a meeting in Brussels on Monday. But, EU officials gave mixed messages about when such weapons transfers might begin. 
     
    Some officials said all EU members agreed to delay any arming of the rebels until August 1 to allow the U.S.-Russian peace initiative to proceed.
     
    But British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Tuesday there is no requirement to wait until August to send weapons, although he reiterated that London has no immediate plans to do so. 
     
    Syrian National Coalition spokesman Louay Safi told the French news agency that the EU move is a "positive step" but may be "too little, too late."
     
    In separate remarks to the news agency, a spokesman for the SNC-backed Free Syrian Army criticized the EU, saying that delaying any arms transfers by two months would leave the Syrian people vulnerable to continued "genocide" by the Assad government. 
     
    Opposition in bind
     
    A boy walks on the rubble of buildings damaged by what activists said were missiles fired by Syrian Air Force fighter jets loyal to President Bashar al-Assad in Salqin city, Idlib governate, May 28, 2013.A boy walks on the rubble of buildings damaged by what activists said were missiles fired by Syrian Air Force fighter jets loyal to President Bashar al-Assad in Salqin city, Idlib governate, May 28, 2013.
    x
    A boy walks on the rubble of buildings damaged by what activists said were missiles fired by Syrian Air Force fighter jets loyal to President Bashar al-Assad in Salqin city, Idlib governate, May 28, 2013.
    A boy walks on the rubble of buildings damaged by what activists said were missiles fired by Syrian Air Force fighter jets loyal to President Bashar al-Assad in Salqin city, Idlib governate, May 28, 2013.
    Some analysts believe recent events may force the opposition’s hand.  
     
    At the IHS Jane’s security firm, analyst David Hartwell said Assad has been strengthened in recent weeks by the Russian missiles, other weapons from Iran, support from Lebanon's Hezbollah and recent battlefield gains.
     
    “All of these factors appear to be coalescing at this moment in time to give him, or certainly give the appearance, that he can think about long-term survival,” he said.
     
    Hartwell said confidence is up within the Assad regime, and it could press for more military advances in the coming days, including a possible assault on the country’s largest city, Aleppo.  
     
    Syria-watcher Chris Doyle of the Council for Arab-British Understanding said that Assad is in a strong enough position that he might survive politically, at least during a transition period.
     
    “I think that cannot be ruled out, as distasteful as that is, given his record," he said. "If it is symbolic, then maybe that is something that people will have to agree to, while holding their noses.”
     
    Lebanon spillover
     
    Meanwhile, there were more signs of Syria's conflict spilling over into Lebanon with deadly results.
     
    Lebanese security sources said several rockets fired from Syria struck the northeastern Lebanese town of Hermel near the border on Tuesday, killing a woman and wounding several other people. Hermel's Shi'ite population supports Hezbollah militants who have crossed into Syria to fight alongside Assad's troops. 
     
    Lebanese authorities said unknown gunmen also killed three Lebanese soldiers manning a checkpoint near the northeastern village of Arsal before dawn Tuesday.
     
    Lebanese Sunnis have used border villages such as Arsal to send weapons and fighters into Syria to help the country's predominantly Sunni rebels fight the Assad government.
     
    VOA's Al Pessin contributed to this report from London and Michael Lipin from Washington.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.