Who’ll Blink First? Israel Doesn’t Think Russia Delivered S-300 Anti-Aircraft System to Syria — But What if it Does?

Israeli officials say they doubt that the Assad regime has received the Russian S-300 system — a real “game changer” of an anti-aircraft system that could potentially endanger commercial and military planes in Israeli airspace.

President Bashar Assad tried, of course, to give the impression that Russia already delivered the S-300 — when he was interviewed (Thursday) by the Lebanese Hezbollah’s TV station Al-Manar.

He said Russia has begun to fulfill the arms purchase made by Syria. But Israeli security officials estimate that the Russians have not commenced the deliveries.

Israel fears that if the sophisticated S-300 gets into Syrian hands, that could restrict the Israeli Air Force’s (IAF) freedom of action over both Syrian and Lebanese skies.Israeli warplanes, as a matter of routine, have been flying uninterrupted for nearly 30 years in Lebanon’s airspace.

The decision by Russia to supply the batteries and missiles to Syria, which has been gruesomely torn by a bloody civil war for 28 months, also causes concern to the United States and the NATO alliance.  Russian official have actually declared that they intend to supply the system to President Assad, so that foreign air forces will not be tempted to intervene in Syria. Russia is dead set against a “no-fly zone” being imposed by Western nations, as occurred in Libya when Colonel Qaddafi was being overthrown.

Israeli officials hint that they would preempt and destroy the missiles before they become “operational.” It is estimated that it would take at least 4 months of training, deployment, and preparation by the Syrian military before the batteries would be be ready for battle.

President Assad may not dare to carry out his latest threats, but he is vowing to retaliate if Israel attacks his territory again. He indicates he would launch ground-ground missiles against Israeli targets.

The IAF did strike inside Syria three times this year, aiming at storehouses and convoys of Syrian weapons heading to Hezbollah.

As instructed by their master, Iran, thousands of Hezbollah fighters are helping Syria’s army in its war against rebel forces.  The United States has publicly called on Hezbollah to get out of Syria.

Military experts believe that it is the Iran-Hezbollah backing that makes it possible for the Assad regime to remain in power.

May 31, 2013

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