Russia will supply Syria with an S-300 surface-to-air missile system within two weeks, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Monday.
The announcement came after Syria, which now uses the Soviet-era S-200 system, inadvertently shot down a Russian military plane on Sept. 17. All 15 people aboard were killed.
The downing of the plane forced Moscow to take “adequate retaliatory measures to increase the safety of Russian military fighting international terrorism in Syria,” Shoigu said in a televised address.
Shoigu said the new system will “significantly increase” the Syrian army’s combat capabilities.
Russia and Syria agreed in 2010 to install the S-300 system, but Israel had requested a delay in its installation. Russia hinted in April that it might supply President Bashar al-Assad’s regime with the S-300 system, despite the Israeli objections.
Russia, Syria’s chief ally, has said Damascus shot the IL-20 surveillance plane last week soon after Israeli jets hit a nearby target. Russia blamed Israel for creating dangerous conditions that caused the crash.
Shoigu also said Russia will begin suppressing communications systems of military aircraft “attacking objects on Syrian territory.” While the reference to Israeli combat planes is evident, it could also include planes of a U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State in Syria.
The S-300 missile system was originally developed by the Soviet military. It has been regularly upgraded and is available in several versions. Each fires missiles from trucks and is designed to shoot down military aircraft and short- and medium-range ballistic missiles.
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