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Assad implies Russia has sent missiles

30 May 2013, 15:19

Beirut - Russia has delivered sophisticated air defence missiles to Syria, President Bashar Assad has implied in an interview to be aired on Thursday on Hezbollah's Al-Manar television station, the network said.

Al-Manar said in a statement that when asked about the promised delivery of the S-300 surface-to-air missiles, Assad replied: "All the agreements with Russia will be honoured and some already have been recently."

Al-Manar, the channel of the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah, Assad's close regional ally, is to show the interview at 1800 GMT.

The interview will be aired simultaneously on Syrian state television.

Russia, Assad's most powerful ally, has yet to confirm if it has already sent the S-300s to Syria, but it announced this week that it intends to honour its contract to supply Syria with the missiles.

Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon responded by saying the Jewish state "will know what to do" if Russia goes ahead with plans to supply Syria with the missiles.

The developments sparked fears of a wider conflict brewing, as Syria's two-year conflict - which has already cost more than 94 000 lives - spills over into Lebanon.

Stabilising factor

Israel has launched several air raids inside Syria this year, reportedly targeting convoys transporting weapons to its arch foe Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Russia defended its arms shipments to Syria.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said the missiles were a "stabilising factor" which could act as a deterrent against foreign intervention.

The S-300s are capable of shooting down warplanes and guided missiles, and are similar to Patriots, which Nato has deployed on the Turkish border with war-torn Syria.

On 9 May, the Wall Street Journal reported that Israel had warned the United States that Russia's plans to sell Syria the missiles would complicate any foreign intervention in the country.

The Israeli report said Syria had been making payments on a 2010 deal to buy four batteries - including six launchers and 144 missiles - from Russia for $900m, according to the Journal.



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