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

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid