‘New reality’? Israel may increasingly use F-35s in Syria raids after Russia’s S-300 delivery

The IAF must increasingly rely on the futuristic stealth capabilities of the troubled F-35 jet if it’s to continue its raids with impunity, after Syria’s air-defenses were boosted with S-300 systems, Israeli army radio reports.

Tel Aviv's self-reserved right to freely strike ‘Iranian targets’ anywhere inside or outside Syria was severely undermined by Moscow’s transfer of S-300 air defense systems and accompanying hardware to Damascus. The surface-to-air interceptors delivered to the Syrian Arab Army, as well as Moscow's resolve to jam the radar, navigation, and communications systems on any aircraft attacking targets in Syria via the Mediterranean coast might complicate missions for Israeli F-15s and F-16s. So, to avert potential threats to their fighter planes, Israel will rely more on the F-35 to carry out its missions in Syria, Galei Tzahal (Army Radio) reported.

 
© Russian Defence Ministry

“The coming attacks won't be the first, but they will be safer for the pilots in light of the new reality in Syria's skies,” a source within IAF told the radio station, also emphasizing that Israel has every intention to use this “most expensive weapon in the world.”

In recent years, Tel Aviv purchased 50 F-35 units, known in Israel by their Hebrew name, the ‘Adir,’ from Lockheed Martin, at the cost of $125 million each. Eight of the planes have already been transferred to Israel, while 33 more are expected to arrive by 2021, an IAF source said.

Russia’s S-300: Here’s what you need to know about the missile system

According to the technical characteristics of the US-made jets, the active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar system should, in theory, allow the jet to operate undetected inside enemy territory and to evade advanced missile defense systems such as the S-300 by suppressing its signals. Whether or not the F-35’s ‘stealth’ capabilities will be effective in real battle conditions is yet to be seen as, in the past, the aircraft, on top of hundreds of bugs and glitches in its systems, was experiencing radar problems.

READ MORE: Pentagon hiding ‘life-threatening’ F-35 design flaws to meet deadline – watchdog

Russia’s move to secure the Syrian airspace with S-300 complexes follows the downing of the Il-20 reconnaissance plane over Syria by Damascus’ dated air defense system. Moscow pinned the blame for the death of the 15 servicemen on Tel Aviv, asserting that the tragedy occurred because four Israeli F-16 jets used the Russian plane as a cover during an air raid in the Latakia province.

@RT_com Netanyahu has said Israel will continue to strike Iranian targets in Syria despite Russia's S-300 anti-missile systems

Tel Aviv denied responsibility, shifting the blame on Damascus and Tehran, and stressing that it will continue to strike ‘Iranian targets’ in Syria. Israel, however, pledged to boost coordination between the IDF and the Russian militaries, to avoid any further unfortunate incidents in the Syrian skies.

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US, Israel Uneasy As Russia Upgrades Syria's Missile System

Along with upgrading Syria's missile defenses, Moscow announced that Russia would begin jamming the radars of hostile warplanes in regions near Syria.

Russia has upgraded the Syrian army’s missile capabilities, according to the Moscow. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu disclosed, during a briefing, that four new S-300 anti-aircraft launchers were delivered to Syria on Monday.

RELATED: Russia Blames Israel for Downing of Fighter Jet in Syria

"The work was finished a day ago," Shoigu appraised Russian President Vladimir Putin during the October 2 meeting, according to Kremlin spokesman Dimitri Peskov. Radars and support vehicles were also included in the upgrade to the system.

Along with implementing significant improvement to Syria's missile defenses, Moscow announced that Russia would also begin jamming the radars of hostile warplanes near Syria, including over the Mediterranean Sea.

Israel and the United States have voiced strong objections to the upgrade of Damascus' anti-aircraft capabilities. 

U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton remarked that the decision to deliver the weapons to Syria would cause a "significant escalation" in the decades-long civil war. 

Meanwhile, Israel - that continues to bombs Iranian targets in Syria - stated that giving the S-300 to "irresponsible actors" would make the volatile region even more dangerous. "We have not changed our strategic line on Iran," Israeli minister Naftali Bennett said Tuesday. "We will not allow Iran to open up a third front against us. We will take actions as required."

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‘49 pieces of hardware’: Syria gets S-300 missile system & more from Russia in wake of Il-20 downing

The S-300 air defense system and dozens of additional hardware pieces have been delivered to the Syrian military to boost security of Russian personnel there, Russian Defense Minister, Sergey Shoigu, told President Vladimir Putin.

“We have completed the delivery of the S-300 system,” Shoigu said Tuesday. The hardware supplied to Syria consisted of 49 pieces of military equipment, including radars, control vehicles and four launchers, he added.

@PaulaSlier_RT BREAKING: Defence Minister, Sergey , has now announced that a series of systems have arrived in .

It was announced 2 weeks ago that the system would be deployed following an in which downed a .

A unified air defense control system in Syria will be completed by October 20, Shoigu told the Security Council. Russia will “prepare and train” the Syrian crews to operate the S-300 within three months.

DETAILS TO FOLLOW

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Putin on Israel’s role in Il-20 downing: ‘Looks accidental, like chain of tragic circumstances’

The downing of the Russian Il-20 plane looks like “a chain of tragic circumstances,” Vladimir Putin said in response to a reporter’s question on whether it could be compared to Turkey’s downing of a Russian military jet in 2015.

 

Vladimir Putin and Benjamin Netanyahu © Mikhael Klimentyev

When people are dying – especially under such circumstances – it is always a tragedy,” President Putin said during a joint press conference with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Moscow on Tuesday.

Responding to a reporter’s question as to whether the incident in Latakia could be compared to the downing of the Russian Su-24 by Turkey in 2015, Putin said the two situations were “different.”

Ankara “deliberately downed” the Russian jet, he explained, while the Il-20 incident “looks like a chain of tragic circumstances, because the Israeli plane didn’t shoot down our jet.”

The incident has heated up political tensions, with the Russian military placing the blame for the incident on Tel Aviv. It said that the Israeli raid on Syria late on Monday had triggered a chain of events that led to the Il-20 being shot down by a Syrian S-200 surface-to-air missile. The downing jeopardized the reasonably good diplomatic relations enjoyed by Russia and Israel, casting doubt on whether these could be maintained.

Russia will investigate the incident, Putin said, adding that Moscow will boost security of Russian troops in Syria following the incident. He said that these will be “the steps that everyone will notice.”

READ MORE: Israeli army blames Damascus for Russia’s Il-20 downing, mourns death of crew – statement

Following Putin’s remarks, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said that he had notified his Israeli counterpart Avigdor Lieberman that Moscow “won’t leave Israeli actions unanswered.” He said the Russian jet had been downed by Syrian defense systems following their response to an attack by Israeli planes.

READ MORE: Netanyahu tells Putin he expresses regret at loss of Russian lives

On Tuesday evening, Putin spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by phone. He urged Israel to avoid such incidents in the future and said that Tel Aviv’s military endeavors in Syria violate the country’s sovereignty.

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Russia to create humanitarian corridors in Idlib to prevent civilian casualties – Russian FM

Moscow will create humanitarian corridors in Syria’s Idlib and encourage local reconciliation deals to prevent civilian casualties, the Russian Foreign Minister has said. He warned that terrorist sites would still be targeted.

“We will do everything not to hurt civilian population,” the diplomat said.

While delivering his message, Lavrov also pulled no punches on the way the Western coalition helped “liberate” cities. In particular, he touched upon Iraq’s Mosul and Syria’s Raqqa, which have been major strongholds of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorists for a long time.

The cities were razed to the ground during the Western-backed offensives and corpses were lying under the rubble “for months,” he said. The minister recalled that during these operations no proper evacuation corridors were created for civilians to leave.

 

 

 

Lavrov dismissed reports suggesting that the Syrian army has already launched an assault on Idlib.

Western media and some politicians have been pushing the narrative that, if the Syrian army launches an offensive in Idlib, it will definitely end in a humanitarian disaster. The notion has been addressed by Russian officials who said that they will take all necessary measures to protect civilians.

US envoy to the UN Nikki Haley claimed that “any offensive” in Idlib is “going to be dealt with.” The US has struck Syria twice after claims of chemical weapons use by the government in Damascus. “Don’t test us again,” she said in an interview to Fox News this week, addressing the Syrian government and its allies Russia and Iran.

Idlib is the last remaining stronghold of various jihadist groups that once sought to overthrow the government of President Bashar Assad, with support from the US, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other regional powers. The most powerful of these groups is Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), formerly known as Jabhat al-Nusra; it is an affiliate of Al-Qaeda, the terrorist organization the US holds responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001.

The US-led operation in Mosul turned most of the Iraqi city into rubble. It might not return to normal life for decades with the UN saying that it is still littered with multiple bombs. An RT crew visited the devastated city, five months after the operation had been declared over in July 2017, and filmed the scale of the destruction.

Meanwhile, the once prosperous north-eastern Syrian city of Raqqa was left with 90 percent of its buildings in ruins after the 2017 operation. ( LINK)  One year on, the city lacks aid and resources to de-mine the area and recover bodies from the ruins.

Bodies still rotting under rubble year after liberation of Raqqa

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White Helmets making films of ‘chemical attacks’ with orphans in Idlib – Russian military

The White Helmets have shot at least nine videos intended to serve as proof in accusations that the Syrian government conducted a chemical weapon attack using chlorine against civilians in Idlib, the Russian military claims.

READ MORE: Filming of staged chemical attack in Idlib, Syria begins – Russian MoD

A number of Middle Eastern TV channels and a regional affiliate of a US broadcaster “have shot nine videos, in Jisr al-Shughur city in Idlib province, of a staged chemical attack” that will be blamed on the Syrian government, the Russian Reconciliation Center In Syria said in a statement on Wednesday.

All videos show activists from the White Helmets group, which purportedly provides assistance to civilians, the statement claims.

The Russian military details that on September 11, the White Helmets and terrorists from Tahrir al-Sham (commonly known as Al-Qaeda in Syria) held a meeting following the filming process, in which they selected two out of nine videos for future transfer to the United Nations and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). The remaining videos are to be used for propaganda on social media networks due to the poor quality, the military claims.

At the same time, since September 9, the White Helmets have been staging rehearsals of an alleged chemical attack in Khan Shaykhun, Russian officials say in the same statement, claiming that the rehearsals feature up to 30 civilians, including a dozen children aged 8-12.

Further claims by the Russian military indicate the White Helmets, along with the terrorists, are preparing an “actual use of poisonous chorine-based substances” on the people participating in the filming of the fake videos.

On-the-scene preparations of places for explosions of toxic substances is carried out by members of Hurras al-Din terrorist group (or the Guardians of Religion Organization, which is affiliated with Al-Qaeda), the statement claims.

The militants have selected 22 children and their parents from several villages in the Aleppo governorate who will play parts in staging fake chemical weapon attacks.

Another group of children is comprised of orphans kidnapped from refugee camps, who are meant to be used for the footage of death scenes. It is currently kept in one of the buildings of the Ikab prison controlled by Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist group.

Signs of activities to prepare staged chemical weapon attacks were reported in Kafir-Zait, the military claims, also naming two villages where toxic chemicals have been delivered to stage provocations.

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Trump tweets warning on Syria as offensive targets last rebel stronghold

The Kremlin on Tuesday rejected President Donald Trump's warning that an attack on the last major enclave of Syrian rebels would be a "grave humanitarian mistake," saying the Idlib rebels are hindering efforts at a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

"President Bashar al-Assad of Syria must not recklessly attack Idlib Province," Trump tweeted. "The Russians and Iranians would be making a grave humanitarian mistake to take part in this potential human tragedy. Hundreds of thousands of people could be killed. Don’t let that happen!"

Within hours of Trump's tweet, Russian warplanes reportedly carried out airstrikes against the rebel positions. Reuters, citing a report from the Syrian Observatory as well as at least one rebel leader, said airstrikes began Tuesday near the city of Jisr al-Shughour in the province that borders Turkey.

Assad has been building up forces for a phased offensive aimed at taking control of the province in northwest Syria. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the rebel drone attacks from Idlib pose a threat to Russia's temporary bases in the war-battered country.

"It goes without saying that this problem must be straightened out," Peskov said. "We do know that the Syrian armed forces are getting ready for tackling this problem."

More: UN verifies over 7,000 child casualties in Syria since 2013

More: Death toll in devastating ISIS attacks in Syria climbs to 216

Peskov called Idlib home to a "nest of terrorists," but it is also home to more than 2 million refugees.

The rise in tensions comes ahead of meetings aimed at creating a commission to help draft a new Syrian constitution. Representatives from Turkey, Russia and Iran will meet with Staffan de Mistura, the UN special envoy on Syria, early next week. A few days later Mistura will meet with envoys from the U.S., U.K.,  France, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Germany and Egypt.

Mistura, in Geneva, echoed Trump's call for calm, saying violence could "hold hostage" efforts at a political settlement. The International Rescue Committee also called on the Syria, Russia and its allies to halt the attacks.

“The world is now watching with bated breath to see what unfolds," said Lorraine Bramwell, the IRC's Syria director. "Many civilians in Idlib have survived intense bombardment or fighting elsewhere in Syria and are rightly terrified about what they may now face."

The war has dragged on for seven years, cost hundreds of thousands of lives and driven millions from their homes. Syrian, Russian and Iranian forces have consistently battered Islamic State forces in the region, but also have battered the West-backed rebels who had hoped to drive Assad from power.

The Trump administration has largely stayed out of the fray, with coalition forces conducting bombing raids against Islamic State positions but avoiding clashes with Assad's armed forces or their Iranian and Russian backers.

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US & allies can have missiles ready to strike Syria within 24 hours – Russian Foreign Ministry

It will take the US and its allies just 24 hours to ready its missile-strike group for an attack against Syria, the Russian Foreign Ministry said. The statement comes amid warnings of a possible false-flag chemical attack.

The coalition strike group has around 70 delivery vehicles deployed to the Middle East, the ministry’s spokesperson Maria Zakharova told reporters at her news briefing on Thursday. The arsenal includes nearly 380 cruise missiles, and US Navy missile destroyers ‘Karni’ and ‘Ross’ deployed to the region, each carrying 28 Tomahawk cruise missiles.

 
Earlier, the Pentagon denied Moscow’s claim that Washington was building up military forces in the region. One of the US warships, USS ‘The Sullivans,’ left the Persian Gulf after media reports about an increased American military presence in the area, according to Zakharova.

While rejecting news of its growing presence in the region, the “US military forgot to mention that they can build up missile capabilities to strike Syria in just 24 hours. The strike group of the United States, France and the UK currently consists of planes, strategic and tactical aircraft at bases in Jordan, Kuwait, Crete,” Zakharova said.

Moscow has repeatedly warned that a false flag chemical weapons attack is being planned in Syria's Idlib province to frame Damascus and use as a pretext for a new strike. Eight canisters of chlorine were delivered to a village near Jisr al-Shughur city, and a group of militants, trained in the handling of chemical weapons by the British private military contractor Olive Group, arrived in the area, according to Defense Ministry. 

On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the planned provocation is aimed only at preventing the expulsion of terrorists from the de-escalation zone in Idlib. He also accused the US of trying to get rid of another “dissident regime” in Syria, as was the case in Iraq and Libya.

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