Russia's S-300 Systems 'Enough' to Respond to Israel's Threat - Syrian FM
14:08 30.09.2018(updated 15:05 30.09.2018)
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said Sunday that deliveries of Russian S-300 air defense systems were a "timely step."
"It is a system which is defensive in its nature rather than offensive, and it is intended for the defense of the Syrian airspace. If we analyze the importance of the Syrian airspace's protection, we will see that it reflects security and stability, but not a war. I would like to note that it is a very timely step and we are very grateful to Russia for its efforts," the minister said in an interview.
Muallem also stressed that the systems have sufficient capacities to respond to Israeli threats to the country.
"In any case, S-300 is enough to respond to these threats," the minister told the RT broadcaster, answering a question about Israeli threats in connection to Iran's presence on the Syrian territory.
The minister stressed that the Iranian servicemen were deployed to the Syrian territory on legitimate grounds and in an advisory capacity.
"The Syrian-Iranian relations are not a bargaining issue. These relations are based on the decisions of two sovereign states, defending their independent decision," the minister underlined.
He stressed that he highly appreciated the decision of Russian President Vladimir Putin to provide these systems to Syria.
Russia decided to provide Syria with the S-300 air defense systems after a Russian Il-20 plane was downed by a missile launched by Syria's forces earlier this month. The Syrian system was targeting Israeli F-16 jets that were attacking the facilities in the Syrian province of Latakia. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, Israel notified Russia of its operation only a minute before the attack.
On Liberation of Idlib
The Syrian senior official further noted that Damascus hoped, it wouldn't have to use force in the country's Idlib province, though it has all right to do so.
"We would like to see the implementation of this agreement [on the establishment of a demilitarized zone in Idlib] and the problem to be solved by the peaceful means or the means of national reconciliation. But in order to establish its rule, the state has a legitimate right to use other means. But we do not want to go as far as this," Muallem told RT.
Muallem stressed that the problem of Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist group remaining in the Syrian Idlib de-escalation zone may be solved through Turkey, the country via which the militants came to Syria.
"Those who arrived in Idlib, came there through Turkey, that is why the Turks know who is located there, how they got there and where they came from. And it would be only natural if they returned to their country," the Syrian foreign minister said.
He noted that the implementation process of the demilitarized zone deal had already been launched.
Idlib remains the only province, where the Syrian government control is yet to be restored. The issue of terrorists' withdrawal from the province, according to Moscow, is crucial now.
On Kurdish Issue
Speaking further, the official said that Syria didn't want to use military force against Kurds who were living in the northeast of the country but would be forced to do so if they tried to secede.
"The situation is complicated not by Kurds but by the US presence, which gives Kurds the illusion of being able to act in disrespect of Damascus's legitimate authority… If they still try to achieve secession, accepting the US stand, then I can say that we will have to adopt the way we do not want to follow, the way of a military solution," Muallem said in an interview.
Muallem further noted that the negotiations between Damascus and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) were fruitful at the beginning but they were disrupted by the interference of the United States.
"The beginning was good, however then the process was disrupted due to the US factor. When the talks started, the United States increased their military deliveries to Kurds, they sent trucks and the negotiations were disrupted. Moreover, they attacked Syrian military who were situated in that region. The attack was not justified by anything and is unacceptable," Muallem told RT.
According to the Syrian Foreign Minister, the United States are trying to retrain Daesh* militants at the US-led coalition's al-Tanf military base in order to prolong the armed conflict in the country, however, their efforts will be in vain.
"They [the United States] are gathering the remnants of the Islamic State at this base in order to later send them wage war on the Syrian army. What for? Because they want to prolong the Syrian crisis in Israel's interests. I want to tell them that these efforts are vain, that this is unreal, that this has an aggressive nature," the minister said in an interview.
The US military currently occupies a 34-mile zone around its base in al-Tanf, where it has been training Syrian opposition forces since 2016.
The base, however, has become the subject of criticism as Damascus and Moscow have expressed concerns that Washington was "spewing Daesh mobile groups who make inroads to launch subversive terrorist operations against Syrian troops and civilians."
*Daesh [IS, ISIL, Islamic State], al-Nusra [Nusra Front] – terrorist organizations banned in Russia
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