Barak: Syria not planning a war

Follows news that Damascus receiving advanced Russian anti-aircraft systems.

SA 22 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
SA 22 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
There are no signs that Syria is interested in starting a war with Israel, and Israel has no information that Hizbullah is planning any unordinary action, according to a report presented to the cabinet on Sunday by the security establishment. According to Israel Radio, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and top IDF brass also told ministers that the army was training and working to implement lessons learned from the Second Lebanon War. The report comes in the wake of news that Syria has begun receiving Russian-made anti-aircraft missile and gun range land-based Pantsyr-S1E defense systems (SA-22 E in NATO terminology). The report, based on wires from the arms-related branch of the Russian Tass news agency, cited a previously signed agreement between Syria and Russia for the purchase of 50 sets of the system for a total of about $900 million. According to other sources, however, the signed deal included only 34-36 systems. Army Radio reported that Russian military officials agreed to the deal only after Syria vowed that the systems would not be resold or distributed to a third country, such as Lebanon or Iran. But in May, the reputable Jane's Defense Weekly reported that Syria agreed to transfer ten of the systems to Iran. In the past year, Israel accused Russia of supplying the Lebanese Shi'ite organization Hizbullah with weapons systems which were later used against Israeli tanks during the Second Lebanon War. The systems allegedly used by Hizbullah were older than the SA-22 E, which is a new development based on older SA-19 and SA-N-11 systems. Vitaly Shlykov, a member of Russia's Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, slammed the Israeli claims as "silly rumors". Alexander Rybas, a top official of KBP Instrument Design Bureau, denied the allegations, saying "Hizbullah has not and would not have been able to own [Russian-made systems]." The SA-22 E, produced by KBP, a precision weaponry manufacturer based in Tula, Russia, is a combined surface-to-air missile and anti-aircraft artillery weapon system. The versatile platform can be mounted either on a tracked or wheeled vehicle. The system contains 12 missiles with a range of 1-12 km., carrying a load of 16 kg. each. The guns on the SA-22 E are of a 30mm. caliber, capable of firing 700 rounds per minute. The system requires two operators and a driver for the carrying vehicle. According to Nezavisimaya Gazeta, the recently developed SA-22 E will be dispatched to Syria even before its deployment in the Russian military. Other clients of the system are China, Greece and the United Arab Emirates, which already owns 50 systems, half on wheeled vehicles and half on tracked carriers.