Syria in talks to buy Russian air defense systems: Assad
Syria says it is negotiating with Russia to buy state-of-the-art Russian missile defense systems to help defend the Arab country against Israeli and American aggression.
President Bashar al-Assad made the remarks to Venezuelan channel Telesur. A transcript of the interview appeared on the official Syrian Arab News Agency on Thursday.
“It’s natural that we should have such systems,” said the Syrian leader. “Israel has been committing aggressions on the Arab states surrounding it since its creation in 1948,”he said.
He made the comments Israel struck an area near the International Airport in the Syrian capital, Damascus.
Tel Aviv has conducted many such attacks in the past. The forays, however, have increased in number since the outbreak of the foreign-backed militancy in the Arab country in 2011.
On March 18, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu surprisingly admitted to a series of the attacks by the regime, which had hit several targets near the ancient city of Palmyra in the central part of the Arab country the previous day.
He said the attacks had been aimed at targets belonging to the Lebanese resistance movement of Hezbollah, and said Israel would continue hitting the group. Hezbollah has been efficiently assisting Damascus in its anti-terror struggle.
Assad also said, “It is natural for us to negotiate with the Russians now with a view to strengthening (our) systems, whether to face any Israeli threats from the air or the threats of American missiles.”
“That has become a real possibility after the recent American aggression on al-Shayrat airbase in Syria,” he added.
The US attack southeast of the western Syria city of Homs in early April saw a barrage of 59 Tomahawk missiles launched against the Shayrat Airfield in the western Syrian province of Homs, causing some 15 fatalities, including civilians.
Russia’s military said a day after the attack that Syria’s air defenses would be boosted.
“To protect Syria’s most sensitive infrastructure, a complex of measures will be implemented in the near future to strengthen and improve the effectiveness of the Syrian armed forces’ air defense system,” said spokesman Igor Konashenkov.
Last Saturday too, Viktor Ozerov, the chairman of the defense committee in the Federation Council, said Moscow would not hesitate to supply Damascus with the air defense missile systems it needs to protect war-ravaged Syria against any future foreign military aggression once a bilateral agreement is reached.