Syria Says New Air Defences Will Make Israel Think Twice

23 2006 shows an Russian Il-20M plane landing at an unknown location

Russia announced on Monday that it will supply the Syrian government with modern S-300 missile defence systems following last week's downing of a Russian plane by Syria, a friendly fire incident that send regional tensions over the war-torn country soaring.

24 announced new security measures to protect its military in Syria, including supplying the Syrian army with a new S-300 air defense system and jamming radars of nearby warplanes following the downing of a Russian plane last week.

Syria and Russian Federation say Israel was to blame, but it denies responsibility.

In a televised address, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that the new system would provide "adequate retaliatory measures to increase the safety of Russian military fighting worldwide terrorism in Syria".

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday he expected to meet with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in NY as Washington expressed concern at Moscow's plans to supply the S-300 surface-to-air missile system to Syria. Russian Federation has agreed to supply the Syrian government with a surface-to-air missile defense system as it continues to try to prop up the regime there. "That is unfortunate. We think it's the wrong decision, but irrespective, Israel is going to have to come up with solutions to that and keep on defending itself", Oren said.

"This is why we believe that the Russian Il-20 aircraft tragedy is exclusively the fault of the Israeli Air Force and those who made decisions concerning such actions", the spokesman said.

Israel has long lobbied Moscow not to provide the S-300 to Syria, fearing this would hinder its aerial capability to strike buildups of Iranian and Hezbollah forces in Syria.

Whether or not Israel purposefully used the Il-20 to its advantage remains an open question. Without this secret sign from the flying Il-20, Syria mistook it for an enemy, and shot it down.

The sudden ruffling of Israeli-Russian relations over the accidental shootdown by Syria of a Russian surveillance aircraft, killing fifteen crew members, is the sort of incident apt to happen when a modus vivendi joins parties with much different perspectives, one of them broad and the other narrow.

Israel regularly carries out strikes in Syria against Assad's government, its Lebanese ally Hezbollah and Iranian targets.

For several years, Israel and Russian Federation have maintained a special hotline to prevent their air forces from clashing over crowded skies over Syria.

Similarly, Omar Kouch, a Syrian political analyst, noted that both the USA - present in Syria's northeastern region - and its closest ally Israel consider the delivery of this missile to the regime as "a significant escalation". "Most importantly, this will guarantee that Russian aircraft are identified by Syrian air defences", he said.

When asked whether the death of 15 Russian soldiers played a role in Moscow's decision, Abboud said the casualties were an "opportunity to impose the limit".

The Kremlin said on Monday that the Israeli explanation "differs from the conclusions of Russian Ministry of Defense" and that the actions of Israel's pilots were the "root cause for the tragedy". And last week, Russia reached a deal with Turkey that averted a Russian-backed offensive against the northwestern province of Idlib, one of the last areas out of government control.

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