On September 22, Robert Bridge wrote about how an Israeli incursion into Syria that ended with the downing of a Russian IL-20 plane and fifteen crewmen was an incident that the Russian Federation’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said: “The actions of the Israeli military were not in keeping with the spirit of the Russian-Israeli partnership, so we reserve the right to respond.”
And the Israelis are concerned, as they should be. After what they did, and their subsequent blame game, trying to pin the responsibility for this incident on the Syrian forces (which are backed by Russia), now the payback has arrived.
TASS reported September 24th that Russia decided to install advanced S-300 anti-missile and anti-aircraft batteries in Syria. The older S-200 systems could not differentiate between friendly and unfriendly targets, which was how the Israeli fighters managed to not get shot down. They “framed” an IL-20, and the missiles intended to stop the incursion instead took out a Russian plane.
Within two weeks, the Syrian army will get from Russia S-300 air-defense missiles to strengthen its combat capabilities following the downing of a Russian Ilyushin Il-20 aircraft in Syria, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Monday.
“A modern S-300 air defense missile system will be supplied to the Syrian Armed Forces within two weeks. It is capable of intercepting air assault weapons at a distance of more than 250 kilometers and hit simultaneously several air targets,” the minister said.
Shoigu said S-300 missiles will strongly strengthen combat capabilities of the Syrian air defense due to their jamming invulnerability and firing speed.
“I will underscore – at the request of the Israeli side, in 2013 we suspended the delivery of S-300 systems that were ready for the dispatch, while the Syrian military had undergone training. Now the situation has changed, and we are not to blame,” the defense minister said.Command posts of the Syrian air defense will also be equipped with Russian automated systems, which guarantee the identification of Russian aircraft, the defense chief stated.
“The command posts of Syrian air defense forces and units will be equipped with automated control systems only supplied to the Russian armed forces. This will facilitate centralized control over all forces and resources of the Syrian air defense, monitor the situation in the air, and ensure operative issuance of orders. Most importantly, we will guarantee the identification of all Russian aircraft by the Syrian air defense systems,” Shoigu said.
A Russian electronic surveillance Il-20 plane was downed over the Mediterranean Sea late on September 17 when it was flying back to the Russian airbase at Syria’s Hmeymim. According to the Russian defense ministry, the plane was shot down by a missile from a Syrian S-200 air defense complex when it was firing at four Israeli F-16 aircraft attacking targets in the Latakia Governorate. The Israeli pilots actually used the Russian aircraft as a cover, exposing it to Syrian missiles, the ministry stressed.
Looking at a map of military forces and theatres of conflict in Syria is all but incomprehensible at first glance. The nation is strategically located and is the stress point of at least two major powers – Russia and the United States / NATO. The Israelis showed their rather characteristic propensity to mislead and what is surprising is the rather gutsy way they appear to have tried to do this with the Russians. Again, Israel took upon itself the “right” to conduct raids in Syria. The only major power with internationally accepted authority to be there is Russia.
With ISIS effectively defeated, the real nature of the Syrian conflict as a proxy war becomes more evident. President Putin’s handling was masterful, but one can probably expect the level of tension in this region to be especially high now.