Pentagon: Russia's S-400 Air Defense in Syria Forces US to Ground Warplanes
22:17 18.12.2015(updated 00:49 19.12.2015)
As part of Russia's anti-terror campaign in Syria, the Kremlin has deployed sophisticated air defense systems to protect its aircraft. According to the Pentagon, those units have effectively grounded US aircraft.
Earlier this month, Moscow deployed the S-400 anti-aircraft system to Syria. The next-generation air defense system, it carries three different types of missiles capable of annihilating aerial targets at both short and long range, and the decision came after Turkey's downing of a Su-24 bomber in Syrian airspace.
'We believe that the measures taken by Russia after the criminal actions of Turkish aircraft, which downed a Russian aircraft – namely the deployment of air defense systems on land and in the sea – is an important step that will ensure more security for Russian and Syrian militaries,' Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad told RIA Novosti on Friday.
But according to US officials speaking to Bloomberg, the S-400 is also having the unintended effect of grounding America's manned warplanes, and the Pentagon is struggling to adjust its strategy in the region.
The issue is causing enough panic in Pentagon circles that officials are looking for ways to paint Russia's defensive installations as a sign of 'Russian aggression.'
'The increasing number of Russian-supplied advanced air defense systems in Syria…is another example that Russia and the regime seek to complicate the global counter-Daesh coalition's air campaign,' Major Tim Smith told Bloomberg.
'Unlawful actions by Russia and the Syrian regime will not stop coalition counter-Daesh operations in Syria, nor will such actions push the coalition away from specific regions in Syria where Daesh is operating,' he added.
But Moscow has made no secret about its efforts to join forces with the West in the fight against Daesh, also known as ISIL/Islamic State.
'Today, we, again, are faced with a destructive, barbaric ideology and have no right to allow the new-sprung bigots to reach their goals,' Putin said during his annual state of the nation address earlier this month.
'We must throw away all quarrels and differences, form a firm first, a unified anti-terrorist front, which will act based on international law and be sponsored by the UN.'
While the Pentagon has grounded manned flights in the vicinity of Russia's air defenses, it still operates drones.
Russia has launched airstrikes against terrorist targets in Syria since September 30, acting at the request of the Syrian government. On Wednesday, the Russian Defense Ministry announced it had conducted 59 sorties in a 24-hour period, destroying 200 Daesh targets.
The US-led campaign has been targeting Daesh in Syria for over a year, but has done little to halt the terrorist organizations oil revenues.
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