US administration believes that Russia supplying Damascus with an S-300 ground-to-air missile defense system will only increase the tension in the region and pose a threat to the US military personnel in Syria. This was noted by a US State Department spokeswoman, who commented on Moscow’s decision to reinforce Syria’s anti-air defense systems. The decision was made in connection with the accidental loss of a Russian Il-20 reconnaissance plane to friendly fire in Syria last week.
“Russia continuing to supply the Assad regime with modern anti-air defense systems will only increase the risk of escalation of an already dangerous situation, as well as the risks for the US and its partners, who are conducting an operation in Syria against the Islamic State terrorist group,” the State Department believes.
Providing Syria with an S-300 “once again confirms Russia’s continued protection of the Assad regime and [Moscow’s] ultimate responsibility for the regime’s actions”. “[Damascus] having an even greater number of anti-air defense systems will not solve the problem of the unprofessional and indiscriminate use of missiles by Syria and will not reduce the risk to aircraft in the region,” the State Department representative fears.
According to her, the US considers the death of the Il-20 crew a “tragic incident”, and a reminder that the conflict needs a “steady, peaceful solution, through political means, and in accordance with UN Security Council resolution 2254”. “This incident also highlights the danger of escalation at the overstuffed combat theater in Syria. Iran must stop the provocative transfer of dangerous weapons systems through Syria which are a threat to the region”.
On Monday, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu said that the death of the Il-20 crew in Syria on September 17 due to the actions of Israeli pilots has forced Moscow to take additional security measures. Over the course of two weeks, an S-300 system will be sent to Syria, and anti-air defense command units will be equipped with Russian systems that can automatically identify Russian planes. The Syrian military will also be sent electronic warfare systems to use against attacking aircraft.