Photo Credit: Vitaly V. Kuzmin / Wikipedia Commons
S-300VM / Antey-2500 missile defense system.

The question of whether the advanced S-300 anti-missile defense system will be delivered to Syria has apparently not been decided after all, in contradiction to earlier reports indicating Russia had already decided to deliver the system to Damascus.

Earlier in the day Monday, the daily Kommersant quoted two military sources as saying that Russia would provide S-300 long-range surface-to-air missile systems to Syria … and said this would make it possible to create “a multi-tier system of air defense in Syria capable of protecting Damascus and air bases from attacks.” Those reports quoted two military sources who also included a warning to Israel that it will suffer “catastrophic consequences” should its forces attack the system once it is deployed in Syria.

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The Kremlin declined to comment on the report, according to Iran’s Press TV.

But Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told media in Beijing on Monday, “I cannot say that this question has been settled. We know what Russian President Vladimir Putin said. He has discussed such matters with an official of our Defense Ministry from the standpoint of preventing a situation where Syria might turn out insufficiently prepared for aggressive attacks, like the one that occurred on April 14.

“It remains to be seen what decisions will be made by the Russian leadership and Syrian officials. Apparently, no secrets are due here. All this can be announced (if a decision is made).”

Lavrov claimed there was a risk of more provocations by Western countries against Syria: “Certainly, one should be prepared to see more provocations, although we have warned our U.S. and European counterparts who participated in that adventure,” he said, according to the TASS news agency.

Lavrov had said in remarks on April 20 that after the U.S.-led air strikes on Syria earlier this month, Russia no longer had a “moral obligation” to withhold delivery of the system to President Bashar al-Assad’s government.

The U.S., France and Britain attacked three chemical weapons sites in Syria on April 14 in response to a deadly sarin and chlorine gas attack that killed dozens of civilians in the Eastern Ghouta town of Douma, on the outskirts of Damascus.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.