- WND - http://www.wnd.com -

Syria: Game-changing missiles already deployed

TEL AVIV – While the entire Russian contract has yet to be delivered, Syria currently has deployed fully operational batteries of the advanced S-300 anti-aircraft system, a senior Syrian official claimed to WND.

The Syrian official would not say how many launchers or missiles were purportedly operational.

Last week, there were reports that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad stated in a television interview the Syrian government already had received a first shipment of S-300 air defense missiles from Russia and is waiting for more.

Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV sent a transcribed section of the interview to reporters stating that Assad declared Syria “has got the first batch of Russian S-300 missiles” and “the rest of the shipment will arrive soon.”

Citing Arab intelligence sources three weeks ago, WND was first to report that S-300 missile batteries had reached Syria. Israeli security sources said at the time there was no information to support the Arab claim.

Speaking to WND last week, the same Arab intelligence sources who first claimed S-300 batteries were already delivered to Syria now say other advanced Russian anti-aircraft missiles arrived in Syria in the last few days.

The sources said a Russian delivery of 9K720 Iskander missiles reached Syria last week. The system is an older version of the S-300.

Asked about the latest report, Israeli security officials did not immediately comment.

After Al-Manar texted to reporters excerpts of Assad’s comments last week, the Associated Press reported that the Syrian leaders actual comments differed. The AP said Assad was vague on whether the Russian shipment included the S-300 defense system.

He said in the interview that his forces would respond strongly to any future Israeli strike on Syria.

Syria did not respond when Israel struck a suspected shipment of advanced weapons near Damascus earlier this month. But Assad said he will respond next time.

“If we are going to retaliate against Israel, this retaliation should be a strategic response,” he said.

S-300 missile batteries are able to intercept manned aircraft and guided missiles.

Last week, Russia confirmed plans to sell the surface-to-air defense missile systems to Assad’s regime.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Syria has been making payments on a 2010 agreement with Russia to purchase four batteries for $900 million, with delivery expected within three months.

The Journal reported the S-300 package included six launchers and 144 operational missiles, each with a range of up to 200 miles.