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‘Unprecedented’ Russian Discontent With Israeli Raids on Syria

‘Unprecedented’ Russian Discontent With Israeli Raids on Syria

Tuesday, 2 July, 2019 - 11:45
A fire rages and smoke billows following reported Syrian government forces' bombardment on the town of Khan Sheikhun in the southern countryside of Syria's Idlib province overnight on June 2, 2019. (AFP)
In an unprecedented tone, Russia voiced its discontent with the Israeli strikes on sites in Syria and recent developments.

Previously, Russia refrained from commenting on such incidents, however, the various responses showed that Russia was “embarrassed,” as one Russian expert told Asharq Al-Awsat.

The fact that Israeli raids occurred a few days after the meeting of the presidents of the Russian, US, and Israeli national security councils in West Jerusalem “can be interpreted that Moscow granted Israel a cover to continue its strike in Syria, while the Iranian presence in Syria formed a point of contention Moscow was hoping to continue discussing, rather than a new act of provocation,” according to the expert.

Contrary to previous positions regarding Israeli strikes, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was quick to comment on the development, saying his country is "establishing facts" about Israel’s missile attack on Damascus.

"One of our principles is that the resolutions of the UN Security Council, which are in place, must be respected and fulfilled. We will proceed from there, in assessing the actions of any players in this region.”

Later, Kremlin issued a statement denying any connection between the raids and the talks held on the sidelines of Osaka Summit between Presidents Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump.

Kremlin’s statement reflected Russia’s desire to highlight Moscow's dissatisfaction with the development, which also reveals it didn’t give Israel the green light to carry out the attack.

Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that the Kremlin did not have enough information about the incident, urging them to explore the situation at the military level because it had more accurate information.

The Russian government said that Israeli missiles targeted a research facility in the Jamraya, west of Damascus, and that a number of houses and shops were damaged in Ashrafiyat Sahnaya, south of Damascus, reported Sputnik.

According to the network, the attack involved Israeli warships from the sea.

The sources said the Syrian air defenses managed to down the rockets fired by Israeli warships before reaching the Syrian territorial waters, noting that the missiles S – 200 in the Syrian air defense system dropped six Israeli missiles targeting military sites in Homs.

It is noteworthy that the discussions about the Israeli raids coincided with an Israeli satellite imagery analysis company saying Syria’s entire S-300 air defense system appears to be operational, indicating a larger threat to Israel’s ability to conduct airstrikes against Iranian and pro-Iranian forces in the country.

“The images of the three erected launchers at various times in Syria indicate that they are probably operational,” the firm wrote on its website in February.

The company said at the time that the fourth launcher, which has now been seen erected, was “possibly an invalid, dummy, or a different element that serves as deception.”

In other news, Peskov said that there is a possibility for holding a new tripartite summit on Syria.

Peskov told journalists on Monday that Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed the possibility for holding a new tripartite summit on Syria on the sideline of G20 summit in Osaka, Japan.

Peskov said that there is agreement on holding the summit soon, and that the Kremlin will inform journalists of its date once it’s finalized.

After the G20 Summit, Erdogan said Turkey, Iran, and Russia might hold a summit on Syria at the beginning of the month. He added that he discussed recent developments in Syria, especially in Idlib with the Russian and US Presidents.

Erdogan noted that this tripartite summit will be followed by a quadripartite one with the participation of Turkey, Russia, France, and Germany. He also stressed that Ankara was still cooperating with Moscow on Idlib.

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