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

    Former US Envoys Urge Obama to Delay Troop Cuts in Afghanistan

    Keeping troop levels up during conflict with both Taliban and Islamic State is necessary to support Kabul government, they say

    First Lady to Visit Africa to Promote Girls' Education

    Michele Obama will be joined by daughters and actresses Meryl Streep and Freida Pinto

    Video NYSE Analyst: Brexit Will Continue to Place Pressure on Markets

    Despite orderly pricing and execution strategy at the New York Stock Exchange, analyst explains added pressure on world financial markets is likely

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora