“We have embarked on a number of activities aimed at strengthening the air defense systems of the Syrian Arab Republic in order to ensure better protection for our military personnel. We have completed the delivery of S-300 complexes. This includes 49 pieces of equipment: illuminating laser radiolocators, defense priority systems, control vehicles and four missile launchers. The work was completed a day ago. We have delivered the whole system to Syria,” Shoigu said at a Russian Security Council meeting chaired by President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday.
The Russian defense minister added that it will take three months to train Syrian specialists to use the S-300 air defense missile system.
Last month, Moscow vowed to bolster Syria’s air defense capabilities by deploying the modern S-300 surface-to-air missile system to the Arab country.
The announcement came in the wake of the accidental downing of an Il-20 reconnaissance aircraft with 15 servicemen on board by Syria’s S-200 air defense systems which were at the time responding to a wave of Israeli strikes on state institutions in Latakia.
Moscow held Israel responsible for the September 17 incident, saying the regime’s pilots had intentionally used the Russian plane as cover to conduct air raids, effectively putting it in the cross hairs of the Syrian air defenses.
On Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov confirmed that Russia had begun delivering the S-300 surface-to-air missile system to Syria.
“The delivery started already and as President (Vladimir) Putin said, after that [downing] incident ... the measures that we will take will be devoted to ensuring 100 percent safety and security of our men,” he told a news conference at the United Nations.
Moscow’s decision to supply the air defense system to Syria has raised worries in Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized Russia’s decision as “irresponsible,” saying Tel Aviv “will continue to do what it has to do to defend itself.”
Meanwhile, Syrian government forces, backed by allied fighters from popular defense groups, have dealt heavy blows to Daesh Takfiri terrorists in Tulul al-Safa hilly region, which lies in Syria’s southwestern province of Sweida.
Syria’s official news agency SANA reported that a number of caves, which the extremists used as militant hideouts, in addition to weapons caches were destroyed in the process.
Additionally, members of foreign-sponsored and Takfiri Jabhat Fateh al-Sham militant group, formerly known as al-Nusra Front, have reportedly agreed to withdraw from the demilitarized zone in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib under pressure from the Turkish intelligence service.
Syria’s pro-government al-Watan
daily newspaper reported that Turkish intelligence agents have held several meetings with the leaders of the terror outfit, and vowed that the Syrian army would not carry out a military operation in Idlib.
Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The Syrian government says the Israeli regime and its Western and regional allies are aiding Takfiri terrorist groups wreaking havoc in the country.