Moscow: Israeli air strike hazarded Beirut, Damascus civilian aircraft, weighs extending Syria’s missile shield to Lebanon

In a furious response to Israel’s air offensive of Tuesday, Dec. 25 against Syrian military targets southwest of Damascus, the Russian defense ministry spokesman accused Israel of “provocative actions… when six F-16 aircraft launched an air strike on Syrian territory from the airspace of neighboring Lebanon, creating a direct threat to two passenger aircraft.” According to the spokesman, Gen. Maj. Igor Konashenkov, the Israeli attack on Syria was “again carried out under cover” of two civil aircraft landing at the airports of Beirut and Damascus. Neither belonged to Russian air carriers, the  Russian general stressed, but did not say to which countries or airlines the two planes did belong.

Russian military sources described the Israeli attack as being conducted by IAF warplanes which launched 16 missiles carrying GBU-39 bunker busters. Two reached their targets and 14 were intercepted by Syrian air defense weapons.
DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources note that the Russian version partially dovetails with the version presented by US military sources. Both affirm that GBU-39 Small Diameter bombs were used, but the Americans claim they were used in the second Israeli wave of strikes – and only after Syrian anti-air missiles knocked out most of the Delilah cruise missiles fired from F-16 jets.
Our sources also stress that that this was the first time that a Russian defense spokesman had referred to Beirut international airport, or Lebanon per se, in the context of an Israeli air strike over Syria. It may be taken as a Russian message to Jerusalem that the Kremlin and Russian army chiefs are weighing their options for retaliating against the Israeli air offensive. One possibility is the extension of the Russian shield of S-400 and S-300 air defense missile systems protecting Syrian air space to the skies over Lebanon. This safety curtain would also protect Hizballah. A decision in Moscow on how to react against Israel may take a few days, like the time lapse before Russian S-300 air defense systems were deployed in Syria after the downing of the downing of the IL-20 spy plane on Sept. 17 for which Israel was blamed.

DEBKAfile’s sources account for Moscow’s fury over the Israel’s latest air strike by two factors:

  1. Israel was always expected to respect the Russiam role as protector of the Assad regime, a cardinal pillar of its foreign policy, and refrain from destabilizing actions. On Tuesday night, Israeli missiles were aimed at the Syrian army’s 4th Division headquarters as Saboura, the mainstay of the regime. For Moscow, this crossed an unacceptable line in the relationship, even if Iranian or Hizballah forces were located there.
  2. The Russians were confident that the new air defense shield they had deployed around Damascus, consisting of Pantsir-S2, S-200 SAM, BUK-M2, and S-300 missile batteries, was foolproof against any Israeli air or missile assaults on and around the Syrian capital. And, indeed, that array struck down the first wave of Israeli missiles. But Moscow did not count on the IAF persevering and immediately releasing a second wave of missiles before the Syrians were able to reorganize for defense. It was this perseverance which so angered the Russians in September, after the IL-20 was shot down by a Syrian missile, and which set off the crisis in relations between Moscow and Jerusalem.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s rejoinder: “Our actions against Iran’s military establishment in Syria will continue,” he said on Wednesday. “We stand by our red lines.” And Air Force chief Maj. Gen. Amikam Nurkin said: “By means of an extraordinary joint effort, we have thwarted Iran’s drive for an active military foothold on our northern border. We are not done yet. If necessary, we are ready for more ground and air operations.”

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52 thoughts on “Moscow: Israeli air strike hazarded Beirut, Damascus civilian aircraft, weighs extending Syria’s missile shield to Lebanon

    • Dec 26, 2018 @ 18:03 at 18:03

      Yep, the usual terror, sneaking around, in the dark making deals slitting throats and threatening to blow up the hostages. A couple of passenger jets, was gibt es?

  • Dec 26, 2018 @ 17:08 at 17:08

    DEBKA, loose lips sink ships !

    With your efforts to show how good & reliable your info is you TALK TOO MUCH !

    • Dec 26, 2018 @ 23:35 at 23:35

      Now, that the error has happen, let us unveil the whole truth, nothing but the truth, and may God banish ayatollahs now and forever if I’m exaggerating only an infinitely small bit!

      The GBU-39 were sent at the request of Santa, and this simply because the bunkers had nowhere a chimney or something of a sort. In this case, the GBU-39 were used as chimney facilitators, far from the common rule of bunker busters.

      PLEASE NOTE: There was no bombing on Lebanon, this also because at Santa’ specific request. He has rightfully observed that the Lebanese flags picture in their centers a large evergreen coniferous tree, which is a cherished and dear symbol in Santa eyes

  • Dec 26, 2018 @ 17:12 at 17:12

    Turkish and Syrian aircraft will be able to launch, from Russian protected airspace

  • Dec 26, 2018 @ 17:35 at 17:35

    God Bless the Russians and their Great and Noble Leader Mr Putin who are protecting the good people of Syria and Lebanon from the Zionist Darkness.

    I great day and thank you Bibi and all other Ziocon’s who were responsible for enabling this 🙂 May you continue to bless the good people of Syria and Lebanon with your endless idiocy.

    • Dec 26, 2018 @ 18:02 at 18:02

      Bow down to the wizard of oz behind the iron curtain if you wish but Israel has the all mighty lord on it’s side.

      • Dec 26, 2018 @ 19:42 at 19:42

        Yes they do but not for Israel’s benefit. God is on humanities side Muslim , Jew, Christian and unbelievers as well. What ever God does it will be to show the world that he is God. Sad to say but Israel as a nation will suffer greatly before they are finally redeemed by God. How many die before the Messiah returns?

    • Dec 26, 2018 @ 18:20 at 18:20


    • Dec 26, 2018 @ 18:28 at 18:28

      Russia will fall in their hands bcz they are traitors at heart. so time will come they will dump Russians like a dirty rag

    • Dec 26, 2018 @ 18:30 at 18:30

      putin, erdogan and other fascist dictators, the love of the muslim pigs from daesh and ayatolah’s described by Salman Rushdie in the book satanic verses. satanic pigs evil muslim invading europe

    • Dec 26, 2018 @ 19:36 at 19:36

      Go laugh off the missiles that are on the way to kill you, you murderous terrorist.

    • Dec 27, 2018 @ 1:18 at 1:18

      Clearly there are no “people of Syria” and “people of Lebanon”.
      There are criminal ethno-gangs killing eachother.
      As long as they don’t mess with the Yahood, the best their lives will be.

  • Dec 26, 2018 @ 17:59 at 17:59

    I would be very worried now Putin,Your air defenses have just been shown for what they really are,USELESS as those missiles in the fist wave were the aerial decoy version of Delilah ,Your air defenses are particularly vulnerable to attack,That must be why your air defense teams are Running away,Its probability now the best time for you to pick up all the trash you have brought to Syria and go home.We all know that the Israeli planes we not hiding behind civilian aircraft ,You have made that story up to cover up the fact your air defenses cant track allied aircraft..Much worse to come if you don’t go home.

    • Dec 26, 2018 @ 18:30 at 18:30

      Russians are not stupid. they install systems that don’t work so they can sell them the ones that work, amongst other reasons…

    • Dec 26, 2018 @ 19:20 at 19:20

      No, as DEBKA posits, it’s a narrative that puts Russian air defense umbrella in Lebanon. The Russian behemoth moves slowly yet inexorably forward.

    • Dec 26, 2018 @ 19:45 at 19:45

      Somewhat vulnerable if they just sit there but what if they return fire and attack back. Which system will be over saturated. Also the manpower to force the attack. Think knot head .

    • Dec 26, 2018 @ 21:50 at 21:50

      You have made very good points about the almost impossible defeat s-300 and s-400 missiles.And I am not surprised that the Israelis found ways to neutralize the effectiveness or capabilities of these missiles. But irrespective of the possibility that thesemissile defense system may have been neutralized-the area is a tinder box of explosives ready to go off.At some point,the Russians seeing the lackluster performance of their missile defensesystem may decide to give the green lightto all the enemies of Israel in Syria to shoot missiles at Israeli cities.Finally, I have been wondering why why the missile defense systems have not shot down the IAF planes that have bombed Syria subsequent to the installation of these missiles.Hopefully,sane minds will prevail and a negotiated solution can be worked out.But those prospects seem dimmer by the second.Finally, it is intriguing that the planes were F-16s and not the stealth fighters.

      • Dec 27, 2018 @ 20:40 at 20:40

        Israel has not really defeated them. They launch at the edge of the range. Syria does not have the radars on to pick up the flight of planes coming from Israel up the Med to Lebanon’s airspace. If Russia wanted to include the entire area it would be extremely difficult and they could shoot down Israeli aircraft inside their own airspace. what did they do knock out 14 of 16 missiles. pretty good percentage. Some of you people have to wake up to what is going to happen. Why doesn’t the USA leave ships in the region or in the Persian Gulf. what would happen to the fifth fleet if a war broke out? Or airbase just 50 miles from Iran?

  • Dec 26, 2018 @ 18:13 at 18:13

    The Russians are always looking for an excuse to sell more weapons. For that reason they love the Israelis. The entire area will be filled with Russian weapons, to ensure Russians never have to stand on bread lines again. Putin is too smart to think Iran, or Hizbollah have anything to salvage, or any moral value, other than money. The US has the blessing of helping the Jewish state, and the Russians get stuck with the violent, dying, always killing each other, trash.

    • Dec 26, 2018 @ 22:07 at 22:07

      You are right “the Russians are always looking for an excuse to sell more weapons” but if you just do some research you can see the biggest arm sellers in the Middle East are US, UK , France, Germany and several other Western countries if you don’t believe it call Trump, he will show you his selling card.

  • Dec 26, 2018 @ 18:15 at 18:15

    Several options on the table to strike those targets are more than ever thought even if S-300/400 were delivered to Lebanon.

    • Dec 26, 2018 @ 19:22 at 19:22

      the striker who strikes, he can be stricken

  • Dec 26, 2018 @ 18:27 at 18:27

    Russia and The Nazi Iranian Jew hating regime. So many similarities!

  • Dec 26, 2018 @ 18:28 at 18:28

    I SERIOUSLY doubt that 14 out of 16 Israeli missiles were intercepted by syrian defenses. I think syria’s fake lies will eventually catch up to them. They are afraid to admit they cannot defend themselves against one of the smallest countries in the world. Even with Russian help.

    • Dec 26, 2018 @ 20:04 at 20:04

      more like 14 hits and 2 losses

    • Dec 26, 2018 @ 23:53 at 23:53

      They were decoys, as the article suggests. And even if they weren’t, the mission was a success and Israel has gathered information on how to do even better next time. And they share the info with America.

      • Dec 27, 2018 @ 1:57 at 1:57

        Exactly !

  • Dec 26, 2018 @ 18:40 at 18:40

    Russia can bugger off.

  • Dec 26, 2018 @ 19:08 at 19:08

    By providing air coverage for Syria and now maybe Lebanon, Russia may be trying to provoke Israel into striking Iran instead of Syria and Lebanon. Which is really what should be happening anyway. Why shoot at the tail when you can shoot the head?

  • Dec 26, 2018 @ 19:15 at 19:15

    Jesus…… hide behind civilians? Before you go pointing fingers first start by pointing them at your brethren ISIS, Hamas, Hezbollah etc.

  • Dec 26, 2018 @ 19:16 at 19:16

    Shame on konashenko who hates israel .
    The pb is that russia leaves iran to stay strongly in syria ,
    when you know iran’s tremendous aim .
    How russia does’nt know that israel can’t stand such a situation ?
    How a world super power like russia can be picking on the little israel .
    Let me call help to poutine to protect israel from konashenko .

  • Dec 26, 2018 @ 19:23 at 19:23

    It’s time to eliminate Assad himself once and for all. Enough is enough.

    • Dec 27, 2018 @ 7:10 at 7:10

      Ha ha ha

  • Dec 26, 2018 @ 19:24 at 19:24

    It seems to become a trade mark of Israeli Aggression Air force to use non combatant and civilian airlines to carry out its aggression. Are they frightened to be shut down? If they worried so much they need to stop their violation of other countries air space and stop attacking neighboring countries under false pretext in support of their terrorist friends. Obviously they are not sure of their ability to carry out their aggression and may be they are trying to make Syria to retaliate so they can stop America leaving Syria in its illegal occupation and may be the corrupt Netanyahu is trying to start a war so the police stops its investigation into his and wife’s corruption charges.

  • Dec 26, 2018 @ 19:32 at 19:32

    Of course Russia is pissed. Their anti-aircraft and missile systems don’t seem to be working well.

  • Dec 26, 2018 @ 19:33 at 19:33

    Iran claims every day it’s aim is to destroy israel.
    If israel can destroy iran from now , why it doen’t do it ?
    What is israel waiting for to launch atomic bombs on Iran ?

  • Dec 26, 2018 @ 20:19 at 20:19

    well it looks the IAF are facing big problem , obvious they are trying to take civilian aircraft as shield , fearing anti aircraft missile system … that what they did with Russian Surveillance aircraft and it looks they did it this time with two civilian aircraft ….how long ????

  • Dec 26, 2018 @ 20:54 at 20:54

    Big thanks to mr Netanyahu and IDF and all the personel of IAF!

  • Dec 26, 2018 @ 21:56 at 21:56

    Agree.Russia nor Turkey is a friend of Israel.

  • Dec 26, 2018 @ 21:59 at 21:59

    Russia knows all to well what shooting down a passenger plane is all about!

  • Dec 26, 2018 @ 22:42 at 22:42

    Russia and Iran are invaders and occupiers of Syria and Lebanon. They endanger Israel.

  • Dec 26, 2018 @ 23:20 at 23:20

    Next Hit is the Republican Palace with Assad in it. Total Destruction of Damascus my friends. Israel will do it before you try to heat the oven. Be ready to be nuked.

  • Dec 26, 2018 @ 23:48 at 23:48

    Israeli planes are hiding behind civil planes to avoid Syrian missiles of the 70s …… In February the S300 will be operational, the you will not be able to hide anymore 🙂

  • Dec 27, 2018 @ 0:12 at 0:12

    I need clarification on the Israeli air strikes on Syria – is it true 14 out 16 missiles were intercepted by the Syrian air defense systems? I don’t mean it is not possible. I just want to know the truth.

  • Dec 27, 2018 @ 0:35 at 0:35

    Russia knowns those Israeli strikes are Iranian offensive military targets. Perhaps Russia needs to eliminate Iranian military from Syria and their problems with Israel will subside. Russia keeps playing games with Israel will lead to US confrontation. If that is what they want bring it on!

  • Dec 27, 2018 @ 2:18 at 2:18

    Obviously, Putin is a liar.

    Putin is on the Israeli side. The only reason Putin delivered some outdated S-300 batteries was to cover up his alliance with Israel. Not shipping the missiles to Syria after the Russian plane was downed would have *proved* and established Putin’s collaboration with Israel by making it undeniable.

    The only way Israelis can be persuaded to give up their attacks on Syria is by retaliation and counterattacks on Israeli assets, just like the Russians themselves said.

    Since the Russians under Putin did not hit back at the Israelis as they promised *proves* that Putin and the Russians are lying and really are on the side of the Jewish state.

    Let’s not deny the obvious, shall we?

    Putin and the Russians are Israel’s friends and allies.

  • Dec 27, 2018 @ 7:20 at 7:20

    IAF is showing Syrian forces how weak the Russian defense installations are.

    And IAF will soon surprise them with bombs powderizing the whole of Syria

  • Dec 27, 2018 @ 17:27 at 17:27

    UN Resolution 1701 called for the disarming of the Group called Hezbollah; Iran armed them anyway; so tell me what good did UN 1701 have on the situation? This whole Syrian revolution is not over and Lebanon is next. Israel shall lay waste to Damascus and it shall not be an inhabitable ruin. Those who attack Israel shall be defeated they shall be reduced to stubble in the field. Israel shall be increased in size…

  • Dec 27, 2018 @ 18:33 at 18:33

    If this news is accurate the Russians proof to be an unfair arbiter. Its understandable that they defend their own assets. Its even somehow understandable that they protect Syrian assets as a kind of patron. Yet, if they would be a real good patron they would assure that the ones enjoying their protection play fair and avoid hosting Iranian and/or Hizbollah assets. But they seem not to care and blundly blame Israel. This damages Russias image as a true stabilising factor in the region. And worse: it promotes bad behaviour.

  • Dec 27, 2018 @ 21:02 at 21:02

    I’m saying this as a person that admires Israel for what they have achieved in the hostile area they found themselves in. I’m also very proud that Czechoslovakia was a nation that significantly helped Israel during their war for independence.

    If the account of events is true (essentially the proximity of the civilian planes) my opinion of Israel drops significantly:
    1) Either gross negligence in putting civilians at risk – then people responsible should be punished accordingly and public statement should be made to dismiss the point 2).
    2) Intention – then it is a war crime. Plain and simple. Using civilians as human shields is a war crime forbidden by Geneva Convention. In this case Israel would be no better than Hamas using people of Gaza to protect their assets.

    I understand that Israel is not in a friendly neighborhood. However support for an-Nusra in Daraa area and this (in case the information is accurate) makes Israel part of the Middle East “problem”. Also fuels anti-Semitic and anti-Israel sentiment and gives this sentiment a factual basis.

  • Dec 27, 2018 @ 22:26 at 22:26

    Dear Vaclav,
    I could not agree more. The United Nations Security Council will hopefully order a full and independant examination of the possible war crime (Lebanon has already filed the case).
    This is necessary to stop the hot-heads in the Isreal Air Force, who may think, the world community is stupid.
    It is important not to loose the moral position for Israel. Other nationals sitting in those planes to Beirut and Damascus cannot be treated like Palestinians ..

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