Senior Israeli intelligence sources emphasized to debkafile Thursday May 30 that Syria had still not received the first consignment of Russian S-300 anti-missile batteries – contrary to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s claim.
Directly taunting Israel, Syrian president Bashar Assad said in an interview prerecorded for broadcast Thursday night, May 30, that the first batch of Russian S-300 anti-air missiles has arrived in Syria and a second consignment was on the way. The broadcast was scheduled to air simultaneously over Hizballah’s Al Manar and Syrian state television channels.
The Syrian ruler was responding to the quote from Israel’s National Security Adviser Yakov Amidror that the S-300 batteries have not been delivered yet and when they are, Israel will destroy them before they are operational.
Wednesday, May 29, debkafile reported the landing at Latakia airport of a large Russian transport carrying 60 tons of unidentified freight. Labeled by Moscow “humanitarian aid,” it may in fact have contained the first S-300 delivery to which Assad referred.
Continuing in the same vein, Assad said that not only would the Syrian army react to any further Israeli attacks, he “would not stand in the way of Syrian groups that want to fight for the liberation of the Golan.”
debkafile reported earlier Thursday.
Fresh Hizballah forces entered Syria early Thursday, May 30, hours after the United States called the presence of the Hizballah fighters from Lebanon in Syria “unacceptable” and “dangerous” and demanded their immediate withdrawal. Already fighting on three fronts – Damascus, Homs and al Qusayr – debkafile’s military sources report that the new increment is assigned a fourth. Iran’s Lebanese proxies will be heading south to take on the rebel stronghold of Deraa, capital of the Huran, where thet will be fighting within 30 kilometers of Israel’s Golan border.
Lookout posts report the incoming Hizballah units organizing their equipment and getting set to move.
The threats traded by Russia, Syria, Hizballah with Israel have reached a new pitch of stridency.
Israel’s National Secuirty Adviser Yakov Amidror was quoted Wednesday night as warning that if the Russian S-300 anti-air missiles are delivered to Syria, Israel will strike them and prevent their deployment for operational use.
Former Defense Minister Moshe Arens voiced his certainty that the Russians are aware Israel is capable of destroying the batteries.
debkafile’s military sources add: Moscow has made a point of stressing that the S-300s for Syria will arrive accompanied by Russian officers and advisers, in the belief that Israel will think twice before tangling with Moscow by attacking the missiles still in their crates and risking harm to Russian personnel. This eventuality came up in the tough conversation Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi on May 14.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem has meanwhile pitched in to warn that another Israeli strike against Syria would elicit an immediate Syrian response. He spoke to the Hizballah TV station Al Mayadin Wednesday night. In answer to a question, he said the Syrian response would be proportional to the Israeli attack.
In Helsinki, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reacted harshly to the European Union’s decision – spearheaded by Britain and France – to lift its arms embargo on the Syrian rebels: He made it clear that this decision had untied Moscow’s hands for supplying Bashar Assad with weapons banned by international treaties.
“Every decision has two sides. If one side lifts its restrictions, then the other side may no longer feel compelled to keep its previously adopted obligations,” Shoigu said Wednesday.
A special interview with President Assad is scheduled for simultaneous broadcast Thursday night by Hizballah’s Al-Manar and Syrian state television channels.