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Syria gets first shipment of Russia's S-300 missiles: Assad


16:55, May 30, 2013

DAMASCUS, May 30 (Xinhua) -- Syria's President Bashar al-Assad said his country has already received a shipment of the Russia's long-range S-300 anti-aircraft missiles, Lebanese al-Manar TV released Thursday.

Assad made the remarks during an interview with the Lebanese al- Manar TV, whose excerpts were released Thursday morning as the entire interview will be fully aired Thursday night.

Assad said the Syrian army received the first shipment of the anti-aircraft missiles, adding that other shipments will be delivered soon.

His remarks came couple of days after Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said that sending Russian long-range S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Syria constitutes "a stability factor" and prevents foreign forces from interfering in the country, adding that the shipment is being carried out according to a contract that was signed between Syria and Russia five years ago.

On Tuesday, a senior Israeli defense official warned that Russia's plan to send the S-300 missiles to Syria was a "threat" and signaled that Israel could take some form of unspecified action in response.

Moscow has also declared its weapons shipment at a time when the European Union (EU) said it will lift arms embargo on the Syrian rebels.

In the interview, Assad said his army was fighting more than 100,000 combatants of various nationalities.

Regarding Israel's latest airstrikes against Syria's army positions in the capital Damascus, Assad said the Syrian army will retaliate against any Israeli attack and won't stop Arab factions trying to liberate the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

The president also said that his government would take part in the international conference on Syria's issue slated for mid-June, lambasting the exiled opposition's remarks that they want his resignation ahead of any political settlement to Syria's 26-month- old crisis.

On Wednesday night, the oppositional Syria's National Coalition (SNC) stressed commitment to its bases that President Bashar al- Assad and his security and military subordinates should be overthrown and excluded from any political process, failing yet to reach a unified decision on attending the Geneva conference.

The SNC, the main umbrella opposition group in exile, made the remarks in a statement issued Wednesday night on its Facebook page, in which it said it welcomed the international efforts exerted to find a political solution to the country's two-year-old crisis, stressing at the same time the commitment to its principles that Assad and his military and security subordinates should be overthrown and excluded from the political process.

Yet, the SNC didn't count this demand as a precondition to take part in the planned international conference on the Syrian issue in Geneva and didn't officially say its final decision whether it will participate or not.

The upcoming Geneva conference on Syria, slated for mid-June, is the result of the recent U.S.-Russian agreement reached by both superpowers earlier this month on the necessity of holding an international conference that would group representatives of both the government and the opposition parties and other countries interested in the Syrian issue to increase chances for a peaceful resolution in the conflict-stricken country.

Both the government and the opposition said they have agreed " in principle" to participate in the meeting.

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Email|Print|Comments(Editor:LiangJun、Yao Chun)

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