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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Russian Lawmaker Suggests Syria Wants Russian Missiles

Speaking to Sputnik International on April 12, 2017, a top Russian lawmaker suggested that Damascus may seek to acquire Tor and Buk missile systems from Russia following a U.S. Tomahawk cruise missile strike last week.

Sputnik International quoted the lawmaker, Vladimir Jabarov, as saying, "I think Syria will turn to us for help, to receive Buk and Tor systems to shoot down American cruise missiles. Syria has the right to respond to aggression and defend its territory." Jabarov is the First Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council's Committe on International Affairs.

Both Buk missile systems and newer Tor variants are designed to intercept missiles.

Jabarov noted that Russia will use its air-defense systems in Syria only to protect Russian military infrastructure. Moscow currently has deployed S-400, S-300V4, and Pantsir-S1 air-defense systems to Syria.

The Syrian Air Defense Forces, a branch of the military, does currently own Buk systems -- as well as other missile systems -- but the Syrian air-defense network is not developed enough to be able to defend all important infrastructure from modern missile strikes.

Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump authorized Tomahawk cruise missile strikes against the Syrian military, in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack on Khan Sheikhoun earlier in the week. 59 Tomahawk missiles were launched at Shayrat airbase in Homs province, where the U.S. alleges Syrian Air Force jets that bombed Khan Sheikhoun flew from.

Though the extent of the damage to the base is not fully clear, a number of aircraft as well as some infrastructure was reported destroyed. Shayrat is protected by 2K12 Kub surface-to-air missile batteries, which were seemingly struck by the cruise missiles.

In the aftermath of the Tomahawk strike, the Russian Ministry of Defense stated in a press release that it would consider improving the Syrian military's own air-defenses, without further specifying. Neither Moscow nor Damascus has yet made a public statement on whether the two will arrange an agreement on an air-defense system transfer.

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