The Russian Military Fires S-300 Missiles at Israeli Jets Over Syria—the Dangerous Love Triangle Syria—Israel’s Mortal Enemy
This might be a dramatic change in Moscow's stance toward Israel, according to Channel 13 news, which claimed Monday that Russian soldiers fired S-300 anti-aircraft missiles at Israeli planes after an alleged IAF raid on northwestern Syria last week.
The Israeli Air Force targeted multiple locations near Masyaf in northern Syria on Friday night, according to an outsourced allegation.
Syria's official news agency said that at least five persons were killed and seven were injured in the bombing. As reported by other Iranian media outlets, six personnel were killed while attempting to shoot down Israeli missiles using a Pantsir air defense system.
Israeli airstrikes on Syria in recent years have been thwarted by Syrian anti-aircraft missiles, which have been reported to have launched dozens.S-300 batteries opened fire again this time as the planes were left the region, as reported by Channel 12. Syria's S-300 batteries are controlled by the Russian military, according to the report, and thus cannot be launched without their permission.
Get The Times of Israel's Daily Edition delivered to your inbox and never miss a story.Israel's fighter planes were not in danger from the S-300 radar, according to a report in the Israeli media.
A Russian S-300 air defense missile has never been used against Israel's air force before, and if confirmed, it would be a worrying development for Israel. The Jewish state's air force has carried out hundreds of air strikes in Syrian territory during the country's civil war and since, targeting what it claims are weapons shipments bound for Lebanon's Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group and other Iranian-linked sites.
A raid or S-300 firing by the Israeli Defense Forces was not officially acknowledged or discussed. A Russian signal to Israel, according to the Channel 13 report, may have been a one-time incident or an indication of a shift in Russian policy.Iran's military and pro-Iranian militias are believed to have a strong presence in the Masyaf region, which has been regularly targeted in recent years by Israeli assaults. Satellite images following the attack indicated that a subterranean facility was entirely destroyed.
Image Sat International published this image from May 15, 2022, showing claimed Israeli strikes on the Masyaf area of Syria. This is an image provided by ImageSat International
In the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Israel and Russia's relationship has deteriorated significantly. As proof of Russian crimes and an increase in antisemitic discourse from Russian authorities has surfaced, Israel has endeavored to strike a delicate balance between Moscow and Kyiv.
Russia, a staunch supporter of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has military in Syria. Moscow retains advanced S-400 air defense systems in Syria to defend its own assets, but it has never used them to target Israeli jets.Gantz said Israel would not be discouraged by the incident and promised to prevent Iran from transferring "advanced capabilities" in Syria to other parties.
While visiting the military's Northern Command, Gantz said the state of Israel will continue "to fight against any opponent that threatens it, and prevent Iran from transferring sophisticated technologies that endanger Israeli civilians and impair regional security."
Hezbollah, the Lebanese terrorist organization, has long been suspected by Israel of receiving sophisticated weaponry from Iran through Syria. On September 16, 2021, a tanker truck convoy bringing Iranian diesel from Syria into Lebanon arrives in al-Ain, Lebanon. Israel and Russia have set up a "deconfliction hotline" in recent years to prevent the two countries from becoming entangled and battling over Syria.
The method was agreed upon at a meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi last year."Intimate conversation" with the Russian military is critical to a "strategic" partnership between Israel and Russia, according to Bennett at the time.Benjamin Netanyahu met with Putin on several times to address the problem, saying that their personal friendship was the driving force for maintaining the mechanism.
Russia sent three battalions of the powerful S-300 air defense system to Syria's military for free in 2018, over strong concerns from Israel and the United States.Russian S-300 air defense missiles were delivered to Syria in a video released by the Russian Defense Ministry.
After Syrian troops shot down a Russian spy plane in retaliation for an Israeli airstrike over Syrian territory, Russia sent the S-300 system to the country. Russia held Israel responsible for the tragedy, which claimed the lives of fifteen Russian sailors.S-300 systems have been sought by Israel and its allies for years, saying that they would restrict Israel's ability to eliminate threats from Hezbollah and other regional powers.
The war in Syria continues to heat up despite being overshadowed by the conflict in Ukraine. The most recent escalation in the war was an Israeli attack that reportedly triggered Russia.
The attack, which took place on May 13, targeted complex of the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC) located near the town of Masyaf in the western countryside of Hama. The SSRC is Syria’s main military research and development institution.
Israeli fighter jets launched the attack from international airspace off the Syrian coast. The jets fired 22 guided missiles during the attack, at least 16 of which were intercepted by Syrian air defenses. A drone which also took part in the attack was shot down.
The Israeli attack claimed the lives of three air defense servicemen and two civilian workers of the SSRC. Two soldiers were also wounded as a result of the attack along with five civilians, including a little girl.
In a report on May 16, Israel’s Channel 13 said that Russian forces opened fire on Israeli fighter jets from an S-300 air-defense missile system during the attack.
According to the report, Syrian S-300 batteries commanded by the Russian military opened fire as the Israeli fighter jets were flying on their way back. The report alleged that the S-300 radar did not lock onto the fighter jets and thus did not present a serious threat to them.
The report comes amid deterioration in relations between Israel and Russia. Recently, Israel became more critical of the Russian operation in Ukraine and began providing non-lethal equipment to Kiev forces. The alleged S-300 launch was seen as a Russian signal to Israel that it was changing its policy when it comes to attacks on Syria.
The US-led coalition also had its share of escalation in Syria. On May 16, an indirect fire attack targeted a base of the coalition near the town of al-Shaddadi in the southern countryside of al-Hasakah in the northeastern region.
Several projectiles targeted the base, which is located within a large oil and gas field. According to the Syrian Arab News Agency, one of the projectiles hit the base’s main airfield, while another hit a drone maintenance facility. No casualties were reported as a result of the attack.
Iranian-backed Syrian and Iraqi forces were unofficially blamed for previous attacks on US-led coalition forces in northeastern Syria. However, there is still no evidence linking them to the alleged attack on al-Shaddadi base.
Meanwhile in central Syria, Syrian government forces and the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) continue their operations against ISIS cells.
As of May 15, at least 236 Russian airstrikes have hit personnel, equipment and hideouts of ISIS in central Syria, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The VKS’s intense operations have forced ISIS cells in central Syria to lay low. However, the terrorists may resume their attacks very soon.
While the terrorist group was not that active in the central region, it did carry out attacks near the Syrian capital, Damascus.
On May 14, a Syrian warrant officer was killed and a soldier was wounded when their vehicle was ambushed near the frontline with the US-occupied area of al-Tanf to the east of Damascus by militants believed to be members of the terrorist group.
On May 16, ISIS claimed responsibility for an attack that killed two government fighters and wounded another in the town of Der Khabeyah, which is located some 20 kilometers to the southwest of Damascus city center.
ISIS’s news agency, Amaq, claimed that the attack targeted two vehicles of government forces. Both vehicles struck with improvised explosive devices.
Despite strict measures by the Syrian military, intelligence and security forces, ISIS cells are apparently still operating in Damascus countryside.
Meanwhile in the northwestern region of Greater Idlib, the situation remains unstable due to the repeated attacks by al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and its Turkish-backed allies.
On May 18, a reconnaissance aircraft of the VKS, reportedly a Beriev A-50 airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft, was targeted with a missile while flying on a mission over the region. The missile failed to hit the aircraft.
While some Syrian opposition activists claimed that the missile was launched from a position of the Turkish Armed Forces, others said that it was fired by militants from the al-Fateh al-Mubeen Operations Room, which is led HTS.
The situation in Greater Idlib and the rest of Syria will not likely stabilize any time soon, especially with the current halt in the political process. In fact, Syria could experience major confrontations fueled by the West and its allies once the conflict in Ukraine is over.