Israeli officials said this week they “will know what to do” if Russia continues with the planned sale of an advanced anti-aircraft system to Syria. Given Israel’s recent sporadic air strikes in Syria, the remarks were taken as a thinly veiled threat to destroy Russian weapons upon their arrival on Syrian soil .
“The deliveries of S-300 have not taken place, I can say, and I hope they will not. But if, unfortunately, these weapons arrived in Syria, we would know what to do, “Israel Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon told reporters.
Israel had tried to convince Russia to cancel the arms sale, saying the S-300 would allow Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad to transfer chemical weapons more easily to his Hezbollah allies. Earlier, two Israeli air strikes allegedly prevented similar transfers.
There is also the risk that, if Bashar al-Assad falls, the S-300 may fall into the hands of Hezbollah or one of the radical Islamist groups that make up the Syrian rebel army. Israeli officials have pointed out that in the hands of terrorists, the S-300 could be used to easily destroy civilian aircraft.
But at a meeting in the seaside resort of Sochi on the Black Sea last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin rejected the concerns of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, insisting that Bashar al- Assad was a factor of stability in the region and his regime should be given every opportunity to stay in power.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, Bashar al-Assad claimed on Hezbollah television, Al-Manar, that he had already received the first shipment of S-300 missiles and radar systems. The Syrian dictator continued to warn Israel that any new air strikes would result in an immediate Syrian response.
After Israel’s latest airstrike against a supposed chemical weapons warehouse at Damascus airport, the Arab media reported that Syria had directed most of its considerable arsenal of long-range missiles to the Jewish state. .