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Russia delivers advanced anti-aircraft system to Syria

S-300 long range surface-to-air missile systems have been delivered to Damascus [File photo: Getty]

Date of publication: 29 September, 2018

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Moscow announced earlier this week that it would supply the anti-aircraft missiles after Syrian forces mistakenly shot down a Russian plane.
Moscow has started the delivery of an air defence system to the Syrian regime, Russia's foreign minister said on Friday.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the advanced S-300s had begun to arrive in Damascus.

Russia announced earlier this week that it would supply the anti-aircraft missiles after Syrian forces responding to an Israeli air strike on 17 September mistakenly shot down a Russian military reconnaissance plane, killing all 15 people on board.

Russian officials said Syria's outdated S-200 systems weren't sophisticated enough to identify the Russian plane as a friendly one.

The incident sparked regional tensions. Israel's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called Russian President Vladimir Putin to express sorrow at the loss of life and sent a high-level military delegation to Moscow.

Lavrov was asked about the S-300s at a news conference on Friday and responded: "The deliveries started already."

He added that "the measures we will take will be devoted to ensure 100 percent safety and security of our men in Syria, and we will do this."

Russia launched its campaign in Syria to support President Bashar al-Assad in 2015 and helped turn the tide of war in favour of Syrian regime forces. Moscow has since played a careful balancing act, maintaining good ties both with Iran and Israel.

Russia's stepped-up role in Syria enabled Assad's forces, which had been losing ground to the armed opposition, to gain the upper hand in the war and reclaim wide swathes of territory held by the rebels.

More than 360,000 people have died and millions displaced from their homes since the regime responded to anti-Assad protests in 2011 with brutal repression.

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