U.S. says Russian deployment of S-300 missile system in Syria “major mistake”

U.S. says Russian deployment of S-300 missile system in Syria “major mistake”

NEW YORK (Rahnuma): U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said here on Monday that Russia’s latest decision to deploy S-300 missile defense system in Syria would be a “major mistake.”

Bolton told the media that the decision would represent a “significant escalation” in the already mounting tensions in the region, and thus should be reconsidered.

He said that U.S. troops would not leave Syria “as long as Iranian troops are outside Iranian borders.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin told his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad by phone on Monday about his decision to strengthen Syria’s air defense, including providing Damascus with an S-300 surface-to-air missile system.

Earlier on the day, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Russia will supply an S-300 air defense system and identification, friend or foe equipment to Syria within two weeks after its Il-20 surveillance plane was mistakenly downed by Syria’s S-200 system last week.

In areas adjacent to Syria over the Mediterranean, Russia will carry out radio-electronic suppression of satellite navigation, airborne radars and communications systems of combat aircraft attempting to attack facilities on the Syrian territory, Shoigu also said.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow’s decision does not target a third country.

The Russian Defense Ministry has said that the Il-20 plane with 15 servicemen on board was shot down by mistake on Sept. 17 by a Syrian missile due to a simultaneous Israeli air strike that confused Syria’s S-200 air defense system.

The Israeli military rejected the accusation that its jets deliberately used the Il-20 as a shield and led to its downing.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later on Monday told Putin that equipping Syria with sophisticated missiles will “endanger” the Middle East, and Israel will continue airstrikes in Syria against Iranian and Iranian-backed forces.

Israel has carried out some 200 airstrikes over the last 18 months, claiming that the attacks aimed to prevent Iranian weapon convoys and stop Iran from establishing a military foothold in Syria.

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