Top U.S. Diplomat: Russia’s Delivery Of S-300 System To Syria A ‘Very Serious Escalation’
United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denounced as a “very serious escalation” Russia’s delivery of the advanced S-300 missile defense system to the Assad regime in Syria. The move comes just three weeks after Syrian forces downed a Russian reconnaissance aircraft—killing fifteen servicemen on board—in the aftermath of an Israeli aerial attack on a weapons manufacturing facility in Latakia. While the Netanyahu government repeatedly has blamed the incident on the indiscriminate firing of an anti-missile battery by Syrian troops, the Kremlin is holding Israel accountable and has gone so far as to claim that Israeli jets used the Russian plane for cover during the operation. The Israeli military has conducted about 200 cross-border missions to impede Iran’s establishment of a permanent military presence in Syria and, prior to September’s incident, the so-called de-confliction mechanism—essentially an open line of communication—between Jerusalem and Moscow had prevented any major confrontation between the two nations’ armies. Analysts near-uniformly believe that the deployment of the S-300 system will limit Israel’s freedom of action in Syria’s skies and thus make it harder to prevent Tehran’s military build-up in the country.