“We have embarked on a number of activities aimed at strengthening the air defense systems of the Syrian Arab Republic in order to ensure better protection for our military personnel. We have completed the delivery of S-300 complexes. This includes 49 pieces of equipment: illuminating laser radiolocators, defense priority systems, control vehicles and four missile launchers. The work was completed a day ago. We have delivered the whole system to Syria,” Shoigu said at a Russian Security Council meeting chaired by President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday.
The Russian defense minister added that it will take three months to train Syrian specialists to use the S-300 air defense missile system, Press TV reported.
Last month, Moscow vowed to bolster Syria’s air defense capabilities by deploying the modern S-300 surface-to-air missile system to the Arab country.
The announcement came in the wake of the accidental downing of an Il-20 reconnaissance aircraft with 15 servicemen on board by Syria’s S-200 air defense systems which were at the time responding to a wave of Israeli strikes on state institutions in Latakia.
Moscow held Israel responsible for the September 17 incident, saying the regime’s pilots had intentionally used the Russian plane as cover to conduct air raids, effectively putting it in the cross hairs of the Syrian air defenses.
On Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov confirmed that Russia had begun delivering the S-300 surface-to-air missile system to Syria.
“The delivery started already and as President (Vladimir) Putin said, after that [downing] incident ... the measures that we will take will be devoted to ensuring 100 percent safety and security of our men,” he told a news conference at the United Nations.
Moscow’s decision to supply the air defense system to Syria has raised worries in Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized Russia’s decision as “irresponsible,” saying Tel Aviv “will continue to do what it has to do to defend itself.”