Israel warns against Russia arms supply to Syria
Jerusalem, May 19, 2013
Israel has warned that advanced weapons supplied by Russia to war-torn Syria could end up in the wrong hands and be used against the Jewish state.
A Russian shipment of Yakhont anti-ship missiles to Syria was condemned by the United States on Friday and Israel is also alarmed by the prospect of Russia supplying S-300 advanced air defense missile systems to Damascus.
While Israel has declined to take sides in the civil war between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and rebels trying to topple him, Western and Israeli sources say it has launched air strikes inside Syria in a bid to destroy weapons it believes are destined for the Lebanese group Hezbollah.
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni told Army Radio: "(Weapons) could reach others in Syria or Lebanon and be used against Israel."
"These are not just any weapons, they are tie-breakers, and that's why there is a responsibility with all world powers, certainly Russia, not to supply such arms," Livni said, adding that Israel had the right to defend itself.
Israel has neither denied nor confirmed reports that it attacked Iranian-supplied missiles stored near Damascus this month that it believed were awaiting delivery to Hezbollah, an Assad ally which fought a war with Israel in 2006.
Senior Israeli defense official Amos Gilad said the S-300 and the Yakhont would likely end up with Hezbollah and threaten both Israel and US forces in the Gulf.
"If Hezbollah and Iran are supporting Syria and propping the (Assad) regime up, then why shouldn't it transfer those weapons to Hezbollah? You don't even have to be an intelligence expert, it makes sense that they will," Gilad told Channel Two television's Meet the Press.
In comments to Israel Radio on Friday, Gilad said: "If you ask the Russians if these weapons will be passed on to Hezbollah, they will say: 'No, that is against Russian law.' But it's not certain that Russian law is something they will respect. So if Hezbollah can put its hands on them, it will."
The two-year-old civil war in Syria between Assad's forces and rebel fighters has killed at least 80,000 people and driven 1.5 million abroad.-Reuters
More INTERNATIONAL NEWS Stories
- Passports requiring probe were on Malaysia flight
- 40 killed in Yemen as Houthi fighters near capital
- Vietnam finds object in sea; search on
- $5bn poll spend to boost India economy
- Libya authorises use of force against Korean tanker
- Ukraine PM says he will go to US to discuss crisis
- Syrian journalist killed covering fighting
- Malaysian jet may have turned back before vanishing
- No sign of missing plane; Malaysia probes false passports
- Two Europeans not on board 'missing' Malaysian jet
- China draws red line on North Korea
- Saudi sentences three to death for 2003 bombing
- First bitcoin machine opens in UK
- US sanctions will boomerang, warns Russia
- China plans $50bn bank to fund projects
- Sony to sell Tokyo 'birthplace'
- Obama orders sanctions over Russian moves
- Crimea parliament votes to join Russia
- Arab League to be revamped
- 'Upskirting' is legal: Massachusetts court
- Singapore probes 'unnatural' death of bitcoin trader
- Onus on world powers for Syria war crimes: UN
- US, Russia set for talks on Ukraine crisis
- Brent oil drops below $109
- Services outshine manufacturing, pushing up jobs
- Bitcoin bank shut down after hacker attack
- India to kick off world's biggest poll on April 7
- China signals focus on reforms
- Hundreds ready for bitcoin exchange class action
- Space taxi, Jupiter mission in Obama budget