Israel asks Russia not to sell Syria missiles

J'lem raises objections to $900m. sale of air-defense system that would help Assad fend off foreign military intervention.

May 9, 2013 14:25
2 minute read.
Syrian armed forces anti-aircraft missile launchers are deployed during a live ammunitions exercise

Syrian anti-aircraft missiles 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Israel has asked Russia not to sell Syria an advanced air defense system which would help President Bashar Assad fend off foreign military intervention as he battles a more than two-year-old rebellion, Israeli officials said on Thursday.

Citing US officials, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that Israel had told Washington that Syria had already began payments for a $900 million

Russia, however, has balked at such calls. It voiced "particular alarm" at Israel's alleged air strikes, seeing a possible precursor for Western military intervention against Assad.

Robert Hewson, an IHS Jane's air power analyst, said that were Syria to receive the S-300 it would probably take several months to deploy and operate the system. But he suggested it would not pose a big challenge for Israel's hi-tech air force.

"It's a fairly well-established, fairly well-understood system, so there is a corpus of knowledge, particularly among Israel's friends, about how to deal with this system," he said.

Once activated, the S-300 could easily be spotted thanks to its distinctive radar signal, Hewson said, "and from there it's a fairly short step to taking it out. It's not a wonder-weapon."

Cyprus bought the S-300 and eventually positioned it on the Greek island of Crete. Israel, which has close ties with Nicosia and Athens, may have tested its jets against that S-300's capabilities during Mediterranean overflights, Hewson said.

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