Israel Says It Won’t Back Down And The U.S. And Turkey Are Preparing To Begin Joint Patrols In Northeastern Syria In Violation Of Its Sovereignty.
As Israel vows that it will not stop targeting Iranian military assets in neighboring Syria, a new report states that not only has Russia delivered its S-300 aerial defense systems, but it has tied them into its own C3 nuclear command-and-control system.
The independent security and intelligence journalists at DEBKA report that this development puts the deployment of the S-300 systems in Syria in an entirely new light, calling it a “strategic gamechanger”:
“This move is a strategic game-changer for American and Israeli operations in Syria. They are no longer taxed with staying clear of Russian and Syrian missile batteries in Damascus, but are facing their first direct contest with the air defense system which defends Russian cities. [Russian Defense Minister Gen. Sergei] Shoigu seemed to offer details on the S-300s delivered to Syria.
He mentioned 49 units of ‘radars, basic target acquisition systems, command posts and four launchers.’
But he carefully omitted to reveal how the Syrian and Russian air defense networks were to be linked to the command and control center in Russia and exactly how they would function together. A critical question remains open: Is the Syrian S-300 system fully integrated in the Russian homeland C-3 or only partially?”
Integration with the C3—short for command, control, and communication—adds a level of uncertainty, even for American forces operating in Syria. This also suggests the S-300s delivered to Syria were not obsolete versions often deployed at international war games, but rather top-of-the-line models like those used to protect Russian cities.
The DEBKA report states this development is meant to serve as a direct challenge to American F-22 and Israeli F-35 stealth fighters in the region.
Prior to the publication of that report, however, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman told reporters that his country’s government “cannot say that we are happy” about the S-300 deployment, but added that Israel won’t back down:
“I think the most important thing for us today is…to return the working relationship to normal. It is today the most important task — to return to normal operation, coordination, to more actively use the ‘hot line’ to prevent conflict situations. We need to work …
“I repeat, the entire responsibility lies with Assad’s army… Over the past two years Israel has conducted more than 200 strikes against Iranian facilities and Hezbollah targets in Syria. Two hundred times, and not a single Russian soldier received a single scratch.
Suddenly, here we allegedly arranged such a ‘setup’. It is illogical. In addition, you need to understand that the speed of the F-16 is two and a half times the speed of the Il-20… and at the time when the Syrian air defenses opened fire, Israeli planes were already in our airspace.”
Liberman said Israel and Russia were engaged in a “civilized, adequate” dialogue and stressed that “it is much more advisable” to maintain a positive dialogue and to work together, rather than engaging in “public showdowns.”
Earlier today, during an Energy Week speech, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he wants all foreign forces, including the Russian military, to withdraw from Syria. Regarding the American presence in eastern Syria, he added:
“There are two possibilities to remedy the situation. The first is that the United States should receive a mandate from the UN Security Council to have its armed forces present on the territory of a third country, in this case on the territory of Syria. Or to receive an invitation from the legitimate government of Syria to place their military forces there for some purpose. International law does not provide a third way envisaging the presence of one country on the territory of another.”
Meanwhile, reports have emerged out of northern Syria that terrorist groups in Idlib are routinely violating the ceasefire agreement forged by Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan late last month. The Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria reports:
“Despite the ceasefire regime being established throughout the country, there are still cases of ceasefire regime violation by illegal armed formations in the Idlib de-escalation zone. Over the past day they attacked Ruseyt Iskander (three times), Nahshabba, Jubb al-Zazur in Latakia province, and settlement al-Salyumiya in Hama province. Besides, there were shelling attacks against Tadef, Aleppo province, from Turkish-backed formations seizing positions near the town of al-Bab.”
In northeastern Syria, U.S. forces are reportedly training Turkish soldiers ahead of what will reportedly be joint patrols, according to Defense Secretary James Mattis. The announcement was likely in response to complaints this week from Erdogan that the U.S. was not complying with the agreed upon “Manbij Roadmap.”
In particular, the Turkish president said:
“YPG did not exit the area. The real owners of the region are not settled yet. The United States did not keep their promise here.”
If the Kurdish “people’s protection units” militia won’t voluntarily leave Manbij, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters Tuesday that “now is time to completely take the YPG out of Manbij and leave the region to the locals, both in terms of administration and security.” This, coupled with the joint patrols decision, has drawn the ire of a group that previously served as a civilian ally of U.S. involvement in Syria, British investigative journalist Rick Sterling’s Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and its parent group, Syria Solidarity Movement:
“If this joint training leads to the joint patrols as planned, you will have two NATO members jointly ‘patrolling’ a third country in violation of that country’s government. This will mark an expansion of the NATO aggression against Syria—the opposite of what President Trump claimed he was going to do.
“It will prolong the conflict and bloodshed and risk direct confrontation when Syria and its allies move to expel terrorists from Idlib.”
(Photo Credit: Russian Defense Ministry)