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Israeli DM says Syria not to receive S-300 before 2014


08:12, June 04, 2013

JERUSALEM, June 3 (Xinhua) -- Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya 'alon said Monday that he does not expect Syria to receive an advanced anti-aircraft system before next year, rebutting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's recent claim of having already received the first shipment of S-300 missiles from Russia.

"We are following with concern the possibility that the system will be supplied. At this stage, judging from Russian chatter, the system has not yet been sent to Syria," Ya'alon told Parliament's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, according to a statement released by his office.

"If they will make the delivery, it would only take place in 2014," Israel's Channel 10 quoted Ya'alon as saying.

The comments were dramatically subtle in comparison to those made by Ya'alon last week, when he hinted that Israel was prepared to take military action to prevent Russian arms from reaching Syria.

Reiterating that Israel will not intervene in Syria "as long as our interests are not harmed," Ya'alon said current tensions with Damascus center on the S-300 system.

Both Israel and the United States have lobbied Moscow not to sell Damascus the S-300, a state-of-the-art missile with a range of 200 km, whose transfer to Syria would severely impede the ability of the Israel Air Force to operate along the borders with Syria and Lebanon and endanger commercial flights in Israeli airspace, according to local media.

The topic topped the agenda of a meeting three weeks ago between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin. But a top Russian diplomat announced last week that his government reserved the right to fulfill the contract it signed with Assad.

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