For The Very First Time Russia Fires Missiles At Israeli Jets In Syria

Israel and Russia created a so-called deconfliction hotline in recent years to prevent the two sides from becoming entangled and mistakenly battling over Syria. However, recently for the very first time, Russia has fired missiles at Israeli jets in Syria.

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According to Channel 13 news, Russian soldiers fired powerful S-300 anti-aircraft missiles at Israeli jets after a purported IAF raid on targets in northwestern Syria last week, signaling a significant shift in Moscow’s posture toward Israel.

The extraordinary occurrence transpired on Friday night, according to the unsourced story, when the Israeli Air Force targeted several locations near Masyaf in northwestern Syria.

According to Syria’s state news agency, the attack killed at least five individuals and injured seven others. Six people were killed, according to other reports in the country, all crew members of a Pantsir air defense system attempting to shoot down Israeli missiles.

According to the article, the Syrian military launched dozens of anti-aircraft missiles, which have generally failed to deter Israel’s hundreds of strikes on Syria in previous years.

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However, while the jets were leaving the region, the S-300 batteries started firing, according to Channel 12. The Russian military operates Syria’s S-300 batteries, according to the report, and they cannot be fired without their permission.

According to the report, the S-300 radar failed to lock onto Israeli jets and hence did not pose a substantial threat to IAF fighter jets.

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Illustrative photo of a Russian S-300 air defense missile. (photo credit: AP/File)

If confirmed, this would be the first time the S-300s have been used against the IAF over Syria, a concerning development for Israel, which has managed to carry out hundreds of airstrikes inside Syria during the country’s civil war and since, targeting what it claims are armament consignments bound for Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah terrorist organization and other Iranian-linked sites.

Israel seldom admits or discusses such activities, and the raid and S-300 launch were not confirmed by the IDF.

According to the Channel 13 report, it was unclear whether the S-300 missile fire was a one-time occurrence or a Russian signal to Israel that it was shifting its strategy.

The Masyaf area is suspected of being used as a base for Iranian military and pro-Iranian militias, and has been routinely targeted by Israel in recent times. After the strike, satellite photos revealed that an underground complex had been entirely demolished.

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This photo released by ImageSat International on May 15, 2022, shows sites allegedly struck by Israel in the Masyaf region of Syria. (ImageSat International)

The claim comes as Israel-Russia relations have deteriorated as a result of the incursion in Ukraine. Israel has attempted to strike a delicate balance between Moscow and Kyiv, but it has lately become more critical of Russia as information of Russian atrocities and antisemitic rhetoric from Russian authorities has surfaced.

Russia, a key ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, has troops in Syria.

In addition to supplying Syria with air defense systems, Moscow retains state-of-the-art S-400 air defense systems in Syria to safeguard its own assets, but has never used them against Israeli aircraft.

Without naming the incident, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said on Monday that Israel would not be intimidated and that Iran would not be permitted to transmit “advanced capabilities” to other Syrian entities.

During one visit to the military’s Northern Command, Gantz said, “The State of Israel will continue to act against any enemy that threatens it, and prevent the transfer of advanced capabilities from Iran that endanger the citizens of Israel and harm the stability of the entire region.”

Iran has long been suspected by Israel of supplying advanced weapons to the Hezbollah terror organisation in Lebanon via Syria.

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A convoy of tanker trucks carrying Iranian diesel across the border from Syria into Lebanon arrives at the eastern town of al-Ain, Lebanon, on September 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

Israel and Russia created a so-called deconfliction hotline in recent years to prevent the two sides from becoming entangled and mistakenly battling over Syria.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Russian President Vladimir Putin committed to keep implementing the mechanism during their meeting in Sochi last year.

Bennett stated at the time that Israel’s connection with Russia is “strategic,” emphasizing the significance of “intimate discourse” with Russian military leaders.

Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Putin on several times to discuss the matter, claiming that their personal friendship was the key reason for the mechanism’s continued existence.

Despite strong opposition from Israel and the United States, Russia supplied Syria’s military with the powerful S-300 air defense system free of charge in 2018, delivering three battalions with eight launchers each to the Assad regime.

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Screen capture from video showing the delivery of Russian S-300 air defense missiles to Syria. (YouTube)

Following the downing of a Russian spy plane by Syrian forces in response to an Israeli strike over Syrian airspace, Russia delivered the S-300 system to Syria. The incident, which killed 15 Russian crew members, was blamed on Israel by Russia.

Israel and its allies have urged Russia for years not to deliver the S-300 system to Syria and other regional powers, claiming that it would restrict Israel’s capability to counter threats, especially those posed by Hezbollah.

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