The S-300 surface-to-air missile system which Russia has transferred to Syria has finally been deployed and is entirely operational, The Times of Israel reports, citing data from the Israeli satellite image analysis company ImageSat International.
A satellite photograph published on 30 June shows that the fourth and final missile launcher has been set up and is ready for use. For some time, only three of the four launchers had been installed at the Masyaf base in north-western Syria. At the time, ImageSat reported that the fourth launcher may have initially been out of order or inoperable.
The improvement to Syria’s aerial defense capabilities threatens Israel’s ability to attack Iranian and pro-Iranian forces in the country, the Israeli news outlet notes. Previously, the Times of Israel reported with reference to a military report that Israel is prepared to destroy the S-300 if it is used against Israeli planes, despite a potential response from Russia.
Russia began the process of delivering S-300 systems to the Syrian army after a Russian Il-20 reconnaissance plane was shot down over the Mediterranean Sea on 17 September, killing all 15 soldiers on board. The Russian aircraft was hit by friendly fire from Syria’s aerial defense systems, which were attempting to repel an Israeli air raid. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later told Russian President Vladimir Putin in a phone call that supplying advanced weapons systems to “irresponsible players” increases the risk in the region.