The Trump administration warns Russia that providing Syria with an advanced missile defense system would be a “major mistake” and should be reconsidered. US forces will not leave Syria until Iran leaves.
National Security Advisor John Bolton said on Monday that delivery of the Russian S-300 would be a “significant escalation” of already strong tensions in the region and that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he would discuss this week with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov. the United Nations General Assembly.
“We believe that the introduction of the S-300 to the Syrian government would constitute a significant escalation on the part of the Russians and that we hope that, if these press articles are accurate, they would consider,” said Bolton.
Russia announced Monday that it would give the Syrian government more modern S-300 missile defense systems after Syria destroyed a Russian plane last week during a friendly fire incident. The Il-20 military reconnaissance system was shot down by the Syrian government’s missile defense systems in response to an Israeli air strike. Russia blamed Israel, saying Israeli fighter jets had pushed the plane into Syria’s firing line.
“We have US forces in the region that are of concern to us,” said Bolton. “Israelis have the legitimate right to defend against this aggressive Iranian behavior, and we are all trying to reduce tensions, reduce the possibility of major new hostilities. That’s why the President has been talking about this issue and why would we consider the introduction of the S300 a major mistake. “
The Syrian skies, where regional and international powers support the various parties to the conflict, are increasingly congested. Shortly before the dismantling, Israeli strikes had hit targets inside Syria, apparently preventing a shipment of arms to the militant group of Hezbollah backed by Iran.
Russia launched its campaign in Syria to support President Bashar Assad in 2015, and although the involvement turned the war into Syrian government forces, Moscow has tried to be cautious and maintain good ties with Syria. Iran and Israel. For its part, Israel is wary of Iran’s growing influence in Syria.
Bolton said the United States would maintain a military presence in Syria until Iran is no longer active there. “We will not leave until the Iranian troops are outside Iran’s borders and that includes the Iranian proxies and the militias,” he said.
Asked about Bolton’s statement that US troops will remain in Syria as long as Iranian forces and proxies are present, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon: “about defeating ISIS”. He added that this includes the training of local Syrian forces to prevent a return of ISIS.
Mattis did not explicitly support or challenge Bolton’s statement, although his description of the role and mission of US troops in Syria did not include the defeat of Iran.
In a hurry to say whether he agreed with Bolton’s statement, Mattis said, “I’ll let Ambassador Bolton speak for himself,” but he later added that he had spoken to Bolton twice on Monday. . “I think we are on the same sheet of music,” which he says means supporting the efforts of the United States to reach a political settlement. “There is no light between his appreciation of the situation and mine.”