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Russia 'ready to fend off' US strikes in Syria

Igor Konashenkov said US strikes could jeopardise the lives of Russian servicemen [AFP]

Date of publication: 6 October, 2016

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Russia's defence ministry warned the US against any air strikes on Syrian regime positions, saying high-tech Russian air defences in the country will protect Damascus forces.

The Russian military gave a strong warning to the United States against striking the Syrian regime positions in the country.

The defence ministry warned that its air defence in Syria stand ready to fend off any attack and defend Damascus from US attacks.

Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said any US strikes on areas controlled by President Bashar Assad's regime could jeopardise the lives of Russian servicemen.

He said Moscow was worried by media reports alleging that Washington was considering launching air raids on Syrian regime positions.

This follows weeks of devastating regime and Russian air raids on residential areas in Aleppo, and a successful ground offensive by Damascus forces against rebels in the city.

"I would recommend our colleagues in Washington to carefully weigh possible consequences of the fulfillment of such plans," Konashenkov said.

Russia responded with dismay to the US-led coalition's "accidental" air raid on Syrian regime positions near Deir az-Zour that killed 62 Syrian soldiers in September.

It rejected Washington's explanation that the attack was a mistake.

Konashenkov said "we have taken all the necessary measures to prevent any such mistakes with regard to Russian servicemen and military facilities in Syria".

He said the range of Russia's S-300 and S-400 air defence missile systems deployed to Syria would be a "surprise" to any country operating its aircraft over the country.

Konashenkov said the range of Russia's S-300 and S-400 air defence missile systems deployed to Syria would be a 'surprise' to any country operating its aircraft over the country

Konashenkov added that the Syrian army also has various Soviet - and Russian - built air defence missile systems, which have undergone modernisation over the past year.

Since Moscow launched its air campaign in Syria in support of Assad's forces last year, the Russia and the US militaries have maintained contacts to prevent any mid-air incidents between the two sides.

Konashenkov warned, however, that the Russian military will not have time to use the hotline if it sees missiles on their way to targets in regime parts of Syria.

"It must be understood that Russian air defence missile crews will unlikely have time to clarify via the hotline the exact flight programme of the missiles or the ownership of their carriers," he added.

In an apparent hint at the US stealth aircraft, Konashenkov added that any 'dilettante illusions about stealth planes could collide with disappointing realities'

In an apparent hint at the US stealth aircraft, he added that any "dilettante illusions about stealth planes could collide with disappointing realities".

The statement underlined high tensions between Moscow and Washington after the collapse of a US-Russia-brokered Syria truce and the Syrian army's offensive on Aleppo backed by Russian warplanes.

Earlier this week, the Russian military announced that a battery of the S-300 air defence missile systems had been sent to Syria to protect a Russian facility in the Syrian port of Tartous and Russian navy ships off the Mediterranean coast.

Tartous is the only naval supply facility Russia has outside the former Soviet Union.

The deployment has added more punch to the Russian military force in Syria, which already includes long-range S-400 missile defense systems and an array of other surface-to-air missiles at the Russian air base in Syria's coastal province of Latakia.

Russia has conducted an air campaign in support of Assad over the past year and helped it regain ground after a string of military defeats.

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