Russia deploys anti-aircraft missile systems in Syria

2015-11-05 17:31
(Alexander Kots, Komsomolskaya Pravda, Photo via AP)

(Alexander Kots, Komsomolskaya Pravda, Photo via AP)

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Moscow - Russia has deployed anti-aircraft missile systems in Syria to defend against potential airstrikes against its forces, state news agency TASS reported on Thursday, citing a Russian general.

"We have considered all the possible threats. We have deployed not only fighter jets, attack aircraft, bombers and helicopters, but also surface-to-air missile systems because there could be various kinds of force-majeure situations," Colonel General Viktor Bondarev was quoted as saying.

Russia has deployed Pantsir-S1 and Buk-M2E missile systems at several strategic locations in Syria, including the Latakia province airbase where Russia has stationed many of its jets for its air campaign, the Interfax news agency reported, citing an undisclosed military diplomatic source.

The Syrian military also has Russian-made Osa, S-125 and S-200 missile systems that it can use to defend against enemy aircraft and incoming missiles, much like Israel's Iron Dome battery, the report said.

Russia began a bombing campaign in Syria in September to help that country's beleaguered military fight extremist groups such as Islamic State and the al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who has led the country for 15 years, is one of Russia's closest allies in the Middle East.

The Russian bombings have also reportedly hit rebel groups fighting against the government, including hardline Islamic factions and some groups backed by Western nations. None of the militant groups fighting the Syrian government are known to have warplanes.

However, the United States-led anti-Islamic State coalition uses warplanes to launch airstrikes against the extremist group and some hardline factions.

Turkey, which is a member of the US-led coalition and the Western military alliance Nato, warned Russia twice last month about Russian warplanes allegedly violating its airspace. Turkey carried out airstrikes inside Syria against Islamic State last week.

Western and regional powers have accused al-Assad of using deadly force - including toxic gas - against civilians in an attempt to return order to his country.

An estimated 250 000 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict, which began during a violent crackdown on mostly peaceful protests against the ruling regime in 2011.

More than half the country's pre-war population of 22.4 million people have been internally displaced or forced to flee their homeland.

Read more on:    russia  |  syria  |  syria conflict

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