Syria buys advanced anti-aircraft missiles: Israeli report
Tuesday Aug 14, 2007
Israeli media reported on Monday that Syria has acquired an array of advanced Russian-made anti-aircraft missiles as part of a military build-up ahead of a possible war with the Jewish state.
Syria currently has "the densest anti-aircraft deployment in the world," Israel's mass-selling Yediot Aharonot daily quoted a military source as saying.
"Syria has purchased from the Russians the world's most advanced surface-to-air missiles. This is the last word in plane interception technology.
"According to one estimate, the Syrians hold about 200 anti-aircraft batteries of different models... in an attempt to provide a response to the absolute superiority of the Israeli air force," it said.
Army radio also reported that Syria has acquired advanced weapons, including chemical warheads for surface-to-surface missiles.
Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak has nevertheless refused to order the distribution of gas masks to civilians, fearing such a step would further escalate the heightened tensions between Israel and its northern neighbour, the report said, quoting sources in the military intelligence.
Speculation has been rife in Israel over the possibility of war with Syria following last year's conflict in Lebanon, where the Jewish state failed to win a conclusive victory against the Shiite Hezbollah militia.
But Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has repeatedly said he did not foresee war with Syria in the coming months.
"I truly believe that the coming summer and the following autumn will not be too hot. There is no room for exaggerating and creating an atmosphere that we are on the eve of war," Olmert said last month.
Peace talks between Israel and Syria broke down in 2000 over the Golan Heights, the strategic plateau that the Jewish state captured from Damascus in the 1967 Six Day War and annexed in 1981.
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