Russia says already started delivering S-300 missile system to Syria
Moscow :Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says his country has already started delivering the S-300 surface-to-air missile defense system to Syria as part of its efforts to ensure the safety of Russian forces in the Arab country. “The delivery has been started already. And as President [Vladimir] Putin said, after that incident […] the measures which we will take will be devoted to ensure 100 percent safety and security of our men in Syria,” said Lavrov at a press conference following his speech at the UN General Assembly in New York. By “incident,” Lavrov meant the recent downing of a Russian aircraft by the Syrian air defenses, which both Moscow and Damascus blame on the Israeli regime’s fighter jets. Israeli fighter jets attacking Syrian military posts misled the country’s air defenses into shooting down the Russian Ilyushin Il-20 reconnaissance plane on September 17, killing all 15 passengers onboard. Moscow says the Israeli fighter jets were responsible for Syria’s downing of a Russian aircraft as they hid themselves behind it. Russia says it had suspended the delivery of its S-300 missile defense system for years over concerns raised by Tel Aviv; however, the recent plane crash prompted the Kremlin to press ahead with its earlier plan to deliver the missile system to Syria within two weeks in a bid to boost the Arab country’s air defense capabilities and take “adequate retaliatory measures”. Shortly after Moscow announced its decision to deliver the missile system, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called President Putin to warn him about the delivery. In the Monday phone conversation, Netanyahu claimed the delivery of the missile defense system would increase dangers in the region, a statement by his office said. Tel Aviv has long lobbied Moscow not to provide the S-300 to Syria, fearing this would prevent its jet fighters from launching illegal aggressions against targets in the Syrian territory. The US has also called Kremlin’s decision a “major mistake.” US National Security Advisor John Bolton recently warned Russia against the decision, advising it against escalating the already high tensions in the Middle East region. John Bolton says providing the Syrian military with the advanced Russian air defense system only escalates the already high tensions in the region. Idlib no safe passage for extremists Addressing the same press conference on Friday, Lavrov referred to his country’s recent agreement with Turkey over the northern province of Idlib, where both anti-government militants and Takfiri terrorists are living, and said Moscow won’t let terrorists use Idlib as a safe passage to run away. Based on the deal, Ankara has agreed to separate the armed opposition from radicals and extremists who belong to groups branded as terrorists by the United Nations. “There is talk that they will be sent off to other hotspots, for example Afghanistan,” Lavrov said, slamming the decision as unacceptable and vowing not to let that happen. The Russian diplomat underlined that the terrorists have to be eliminated or there has to be a judicial process to punish them. The leaders of Turkey and Russia said on September 17 they had agreed to create a demilitarized buffer zone to separate Syrian government troops from Takfiri militant groups in Idlib. The deal came amid Turkey’s concerns about thousands of terrorists living in the province.