Syria receives Russian missile shipment
Beirut, May 30, 2013
Syria has already received the first shipment of an advanced Russian air defence system and will soon get the rest of the S-300 missiles, President Bashar Al-Assad was quoted as saying on Thursday.
"Syria has received the first shipment of Russian anti-aircraft S-300 rockets," Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar newspaper quoted Assad as saying in an interview due to be broadcast later in the day. "The rest of the shipment will arrive soon."
An interview with Assad will be released on Al Manar, a television station linked to Assad's ally, the Shi'ite Muslim militant group Hezbollah.
Russia has said it would deliver the missile system to the Syrian government over Western objections, saying the move would help stabilise the regional balance.
The US, France and Israel have all called on Russia to stop the delivery.
Moscow, ally of Assad's government, appeared to grow more defiant after the European Union let its arms embargo on Syria expire earlier this week, opening up the possibility of arming the rebels battling to topple the president.
More than 80,000 people have died in Syria since peaceful protests against four decades of Assad family rule led to a civil war that has pitted the president's forces and his ally, Hezbollah, against Syrian rebels and a flow of Sunni Islamist militants who have come to help them from abroad.
Moscow says the lapsing of the EU embargo complicates US and Russian-led efforts to set up a peace conference between the Syrian government and its opponents, who want an immediate end to four decades of Assad family rule.
The Syrian leader said he planned to go to the "Geneva 2" conference, Al-Akhbar reported, though he was unconvinced of a fruitful outcome and said he would continue to fight militants seeking his ouster.
Officials in Israel say the S-300 could reach deep into the Jewish state and threaten flights over its main commercial airport near Tel Aviv.
Al-Akhbar said Assad also stressed ties between his forces and Hezbollah militants now openly fighting on the Syrian side of the Lebanese-Syrian frontier.
"Syria and Hezbollah are part of the same axis," Al-Akhbar quoted him as telling Al-Manar. "The Syrian army is the one fighting and leading the battles against the armed group, and this fight will continue until all those who are called terrorists are eliminated." - Reuters
More INTERNATIONAL NEWS Stories
- No sign of missing plane; Malaysia probes false passports
- Two Europeans not on board 'missing' Malaysian jet
- China draws red line on North Korea
- Saudi sentences three to death for 2003 bombing
- First bitcoin machine opens in UK
- US sanctions will boomerang, warns Russia
- China plans $50bn bank to fund projects
- Sony to sell Tokyo 'birthplace'
- Obama orders sanctions over Russian moves
- Crimea parliament votes to join Russia
- Arab League to be revamped
- 'Upskirting' is legal: Massachusetts court
- Singapore probes 'unnatural' death of bitcoin trader
- Onus on world powers for Syria war crimes: UN
- US, Russia set for talks on Ukraine crisis
- Brent oil drops below $109
- Services outshine manufacturing, pushing up jobs
- Bitcoin bank shut down after hacker attack
- India to kick off world's biggest poll on April 7
- China signals focus on reforms
- Hundreds ready for bitcoin exchange class action
- Space taxi, Jupiter mission in Obama budget
- Putin: Use of force last resort in Ukraine
- Powers to boost Lebanese military, economy
- Egypt bans Hamas activities in Egypt
- Putin ends army exercise, markets rally
- Russia has violated international law: Obama
- Russian markets hit as Putin tightens grip on Crimea
- Iran nuclear deal 'being implemented as planned'
- Global factory growth stumbles as demand falters