World News

Russian Missile Plan Chills Chances for Syrian No-Fly Zone

Analysts say it will be more difficult for the United States or other Western powers to enforce a no-fly zone over Syria if Russia goes ahead with the sale of anti-aircraft missiles to its ally Damascus.

Moscow said this week it plans to deliver the advanced S-300 air defense system to the embattled government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, despite objections by the U.S., France and Israel.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Tuesday the transfer will be a "stabilizing factor" and will deter what he called "some hotheads" from considering sending foreign forces to intervene in the Syrian conflict.

Ben MacQueen, a Middle East analyst at Australia's Monash University tells VOA the surface-to-air missiles would represent a major upgrade over Syria's current air defenses and could challenge Western aircraft.



"The S-300 has the capacity to knock down cruise missiles as well as high-altitude planes. So the possession of the S-300 certainly does pose greater difficulties to a no-fly zone."



Some top U.S. lawmakers have been urging the Obama administration to consider a no-fly zone to stop Syrian armed forces from carrying out air attacks that have killed a large number of both rebels and civilians during the two-year-old conflict.



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.

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon toughened that message Tuesday, warning of possible retaliation if the Russian missile technology is transferred.



"Obviously from our perspective it is a threat at this stage. 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 say 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 an 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.

In separate remarks, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused Western powers of carrying out a "whole range of actions" that undermine the idea of the conference.

Syria's foreign ministry issued a harsher criticism of the EU, accusing it of supporting "terrorists" in violation of international law and obstructing international efforts to find a political solution to the fighting.

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 EU members agreed to delay any arming of the rebels until after August 1 to allow the U.S.-Russian peace initiative to proceed. But British and French officials said Tuesday there is no requirement to wait until August to send weapons, although they reiterated that their governments have no immediate plans to do so.

White House spokesman Jay Carney praised the EU action as a show of support for the Syrian opposition.

Syrian National Coalition spokesman Louay Safi also welcomed the lifting of the EU embargo as a "positive step," but warned that its impact may come too late to stop pro-Assad forces from killing civilians.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs