Israeli Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman said that Israel would be prepared to strike at an S-300 missile defense system in Syria, in an interview with the Ynet news outlet.
“What’s important to us is that the defensive weapons the Russians are giving Syria won’t be used against us,” Liberman stressed.
“If they’re used against us, we’ll act against them. If someone fires at our planes, we will destroy them.”
Liberman made his remarks shortly after Russian officials reportedly warned Israel of “catastrophic” consequences should it decide to target any S-300 system in Syria. Although Moscow had abided by a decision not to send Damascus the missile defense system, the Kremlin is apparently rethinking its stance in that regard in light of the most recent tripartite strike against Syria by the United States, United Kingdom and France.
Israeli officials are concerned that Iran in particular may take advantage of a future decision by Russia to send the S-300 system to Syria.
“We don’t interfere in Syria’s internal affairs, but on the other hand we will not allow Iran to swamp Syria with advanced weapons systems aimed against Israel,” Liberman said. “If they shoot at us we will respond. It doesn’t matter if it’s the S-300 or the S-700 or any other system.”
The Syrian military fired at an Israeli F-16 as recentlly as in February after an Iranian drone infiltrated Israel’s airspace from Syria.
Liberman also departed Israel on Tuesday night to the United States for a trip in which he will meet with senior top US defense officials including US Secretary of Defense James Mattis and National Security Adviser John Bolton for meetings on Iran and Syria.