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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran Press TV

Russia curbs Israeli flights near Syrian skies: Paper

Iran Press TV

Mon Oct 22, 2018 10:46AM

Israel's leading newspaper Haaretz says Russia has been taking a more forceful stance toward flights by Israeli aircraft near the Syrian border in the north.

Russia's behavior, the paper said, is being interpreted in Israel as a response to the downing of an Ilyushin intelligence-gathering plane on September 17 at the end of an Israeli airstrike near Latakia in northwest Syria.

"There have been several instances in which Russian air defense radars in Syria were activated in connection with Israel's air force activity in the north," Haaretz reported.

The Russians are demanding further clarifications from the Israeli military via the "hotline" that is meant to prevent any aerial clashes between the two parties, it said.

Moscow has blamed the downing of its aircraft on Israel, saying Israeli jets used the landing Russian plane as a "cover" which resulted in the Il-20 being struck by a Syrian air defense missile.

Following the incident, Russia delivered its S-300 surface-to-air missile defense system to Syria, saying it was aimed at ensuring the safety of Russian forces in the Arab country.

Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and minister of military affairs Avigdor Lieberman said last week that Israel will continue its aerial incursions into Syria.

Israeli authorities have boasted that F-35 jets supplied by the US can beat S-300 in light of their alleged stealth capabilities, but no incursion has been reported since the deployment of the new missile defense system.

Russia's Izvestia newspaper reported last week that three air defense systems supplied to Syria were of the most advanced model of the S-300 missiles with the highest radar and target-identification capabilities.

According to the paper, the missile batteries will initially be operated by Russian experts and the process of training Syrian soldiers to operate them is expected to take some time.

Through the move, however, Moscow is mainly "signaling to Israel that it intends to limit Israel's freedom to maneuver in the Syrian skies," it said.

Netanyahu plans to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin soon but no date has been announced yet.

A Haaretz report last month said Russia had warned senior Israeli officials before the downing that attacking targets in Syria would harm Moscow's interests.

According to the paper, Moscow had conveyed a message to Tel Aviv that Israel's attacks were against Russia's goal to strengthen President Bashar Assad's legitimate government and end fighting in the country.

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