Wednesday, August 5, 2020


DAMASCUS, Syria, Syria’s Foreign Minister, Walid al-Moallem, said that, the Syrian sky will be protected by the Russian S-300 air defence system, which has just been deployed. Speaking in an interview with the pan-Arab al-Mayadeen TV, al-Moallem hailed the deployment of the S-300 long-range surface-to-air missile system in Syria, for helping bolster Syria’s air defence against future Israeli air strikes.

On Tuesday, Russian Defence Minister, Sergey Shoigu, told President Vladimir Putin that, the S-300 system and dozens of additional hardware pieces have been delivered to Syria, to boost the security of Russian personnel there. The Russian move comes against the backdrop of the downing of a Russian surveillance plane by Syria air force’s friendly fire last month, during an Israeli air attack on Syrian military positions in Latakia province.

Russia squarely blamed the incident, which killed all 15 Russian crew aboard the plane, on Israel, which it said, used the Russian plane as cover during the air raid.

Al-Moallem said, the deployment of the more advanced S-400 air defence system is the ambition of Syria. He said, the repeated Israeli attacks on Syrian military bases, are aimed at eclipsing the victories of the Syrian army, which has recaptured over 90 percent of Syrian territories.

He said, the situation is getting better, in terms of protecting the Syrian airspace from Israeli attacks, noting that, Russia-Syria relationship is at its best. Meanwhile, al-Moallem said, the liberation of Idlib province, as well as, rebel-held areas in the countryside of Aleppo and Hama province, will be included in the last chapter of fighting terrorism in Syria.

A recent Turkey-Russia agreement, on building a demilitarised zone has averted a planned full offensive by the Syrian army to liberate Idlib, the last major rebel stronghold in Syria. The buffer zone will be created on Oct 15, and the rebels will have to withdraw from these areas, as well as, their heavy weaponry. Some of the rebel groups, including the al-Qaeda-linked ones, have been outright about their rejection of the deal.

But al-Moallem said Turkey, which has a sway over the rebel groups in Idlib, will likely live to its pledges, in terms of pushing the rebels out of the demilitarised zone. He said, the first step of liberating Idlib is for the rebels to hand over their heavy and medium weapons by Dec, noting that the local rebels who are originally from Idlib will remain in Idlib, after a reconciliation process with the government.

As for the rebels from outside Idlib, al-Moallem said, they should return to their cities, adding that, foreign fighters in Idlib will have to return to their original countries en route Turkey. The top Syrian diplomat also said, the U.S. military presence in the al-Tanf base in southern Syria is “illegitimate.”

He noted that recent Russia-U.S. talks have been focusing on dismantling the U.S. base in al-Tanf, saying that, there is no need for a U.S. military base in southern Syria, after the Syrian army liberated those areas from the Daesh militants. He also charged that, the U.S. wasn’t really fighting terrorism in Syria, adding that, only the Syrian army and its allies are the ones liberating areas from the Daesh in southern Syria.