Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

Netanyahu deletes tweet featuring photo of James Foley

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 22 August 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 22 August 2014

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Read more

FOCUS

Lifting the veil over China's air pollution

Read more

ENCORE!

Tango Takeover in Paris

Read more

WEB NEWS

Calls for ISIS media blackout after execution of James Foley

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Steely resolve of reporters exploited by pared-down employers'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

US judge calls Argentina bond swap offer illegal

Read more

  • Europe launches navigation satellites to rival GPS

    Read more

  • Philippines to repatriate UN troops in Liberia over Ebola fears

    Read more

  • Besieged by problems, Hollande faces unhappy return from summer holidays

    Read more

  • Iraqi Sunnis quit govt talks after mosque massacre

    Read more

  • US demands Russia withdraw aid convoy from Ukraine

    Read more

  • Rights group sues US government over ‘deportation mill’

    Read more

  • Colombian army and FARC rebels begin work on ceasefire

    Read more

  • US National Guard starts to pull out of embattled Missouri town

    Read more

  • PSG fall flat once more against Evian

    Read more

  • Fed Chair says US job market still hampered by Great Recession

    Read more

  • August 22, 1914: The bloodiest day in French military history

    Read more

  • Central African Republic announces coalition cabinet

    Read more

  • Hamas publicly executes "informers"

    Read more

  • French firebrand leftist to quit party presidency, but not politics

    Read more

  • Fear of Ebola sky-high among Air France workers

    Read more

  • US says Islamic State threat 'beyond anything we've seen'

    Read more

  • Malaysia mourns as remains of MH17 victims arrive home

    Read more

  • Interactive: Relive the Liberation of Paris in WWII

    Read more

Middle east

A war of words over Russian missile deliveries to Syria

Video by FRANCE 24

Text by Leela JACINTO

Latest update : 2013-05-31

While Syrian President Bashar al-Assad implied that Damascus had received sophisticated Russian anti-aircraft missiles in a TV interview, Russian reports clarified Friday that the S-300 systems had not yet arrived in Syria.

A day after President Bashar al-Assad implied that Syria had received a first shipment of sophisticated Russian anti-aircraft missiles, Russian reports clarified that the promised S-300 long-range systems had not yet arrived in Syria and suggested that delivery was unlikely before the autumn of 2013.

The Russian Interfax news agency on Friday quoted a Russian arms industry source as saying the deliveries can begin “no earlier than the autumn”. Two other Russian newspapers, the Vedomosti and Kommersant, reported on Friday that Moscow may not deliver the missile systems to Damascus this year.

Assad: Russia 'keeping its end of the deal'

The confusion stemmed from excerpts released by Hezbollah’s al-Manar TV ahead of its Thursday night interview with the Syrian president.

The excerpts released by the Lebanese-based TV station quoted Assad as saying his government had already received a first shipment of S-300 missiles from Russia.

But in the interview itself Assad only said: "All we have agreed on with Russia will be implemented and some of it has been implemented recently, and we and the Russians continue to implement these contracts."

“There’s been a lot of confusing statements coming out of the various parties involved over the past few days,” said Cyril Vanier from FRANCE 24’s international affairs desk. “The Lebanese TV that broadcast the interview had actually in a way “mis-teased” the interview. They had suggested that Assad was confirming the arrival of the missiles. That’s not what he did.”

'A game of poker’

US, Germany warn Russia that arming Syria could ‘jeopardise peace efforts’

The United States and Germany warned Russia on Friday that arming President Bashar al-Assad's forces could jeopardise international efforts to bring Syria's warring parties together for peace talks.

Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking after talks with his German counterpart, Guido Westerwelle, said Russian plans to send a sophisticated air defence system to Assad also put Israel's security at risk.

Despite their differences, the United States and Russia are trying to convene an international conference next month to end a 26-month-old conflict that has killed more than 80,000 people and threatens to ignite wider Middle Eastern confrontations.

Russia has said it would fulfill an order for the S-300 long range surface-to-air missiles to Syria as a deterrent against foreign military intervention.

(REUTERS)

The latest turn came as the international community is pushing to hold US-Russian sponsored peace talks next month in Geneva.

“What we’re seeing for the moment is a game of poker. The backers of both sides of the conflict are either supplying weapons or saying they are going to supply weapons,” said Vanier. “Both sides are trying to come to the negotiating table with as strong a hand as possible.”

Earlier this week, the European Union agreed to allow the lapse of a ban on arms deliveries to Syria’s rebels. Foreign ministers from the 27-nation union, meeting in Brussels, failed to muster the votes for renewing the arms embargo, which expired Friday.

Assad has said Syria would “in principle” attend a peace conference in Geneva if there were no unacceptable preconditions.

But on Thursday, the main Western-backed opposition group outside Syria announced it would not participate in the talks.

A spokesman for the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) told reporters in Turkey that the group would not attend the talks while massacres continued inside Syria.

"The National Coalition will not participate in an international conference and will not support any efforts in light of Iran's malicious invasion of Syria," said SNC spokesman Khalid Saleh in an apparent reference to Iranian-backed Hezbollah fighters aiding Assad’s forces inside Syria.

There have been numerous reports that Iran’s Revolution Guards are advising Assad’s troops and earlier this year, a top Revolutionary Guard official was killed in Syria.

Assad threatens Israel – and vice versa

In his interview with al-Manar on Thursday, Assad took a tough line on Israel, warning that Damascus  would strike back if there were any new Israeli strikes inside Syria.

Earlier this month, Israel had struck near Damascus, targeting suspected shipments of advanced weapons purportedly intended for Hezbollah. Syria did not respond at the time.

Vanier noted that while Damascus has the means to defend its interests, “it’s simply not in its interests to engage with Israel – especially not now, when all of Bashar al-Assad’s security efforts are mobilised in fighting the rebellion inside Syria,” he noted. “However, Assad can’t lose any points by threatening Israel – this is always a positive sign to send to his backers – Hezbollah and Iran – even if these threats are just words.”

Meanwhile, Israel has indicated that it would attack the S-300 systems if they were used against the Jewish state. Earlier this week, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said Israel considered the S-300s in Syrian hands a threat and signalled it was prepared to use force to stop delivery.

The S-300s have a range of up to 200 kilometers (125 miles) and can track and strike multiple targets at once.

Date created : 2013-05-31

  • HAARETZ

    Syria has received Russian missiles, Assad says

    Read more

  • SYRIA

    US calls on Hezbollah to leave Syrian conflict

    Read more

  • SYRIA

    Syrian rebel chief warns Hezbollah over aiding Assad

    Read more

COMMENT(S)