Russia has deployed missile defense systems to Syria to protect its military forces and equipment stationed in the Arab country, the head of the Russian air force says.
Referring to the potential threats against Russian military forces and equipment in Syria, Colonel General Viktor Bondarev said fighter jets could be hijacked in countries neighboring Syria and used to attack the Russian forces.
“We have taken into account all possible threats. We have sent not only fighters, attack aircraft, bombers, and helicopters, but also missile defense systems because any sort of force majeure situation may occur,” Bondarev said in an interview with Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya.
“For example, the stealing of a warplane in a neighboring country with Syria or having to return fire. We need to be prepared for that,” he said.
‘Missile lock behind Turkish airspace violation’
Elsewhere in his remarks, the Russian air force commander commented on a Russian fighter jet’s violation of Turkey’s airspace in October. He said the Russian warplane had been forced to enter Turkish airspace while performing an evasive maneuver against “some kind of” a missile.
“Our fighter jet was on a combat mission in northern Syria in very dense cloud conditions. When the aircraft was passing along the Turkish border, the onboard equipment set off an alarm indicating the plane was being targeted by some kind of air defense system,” Bondarev told the Russian daily.
“The pilot had to take a split-second decision to perform an anti-missile maneuver. Well, [the plane] went a little bit into Turkish airspace. We acknowledged it frankly,” he added.
Bondarev did not explain to what country the surface-to-air missile locked on the Russian jet belonged.
The Russian Defense Ministry said on October 3 that a Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jet had violated Turkish airspace for several seconds because of unfavorable weather conditions.
Turkey said later that a Russian jet had again violated the country’s airspace. Moscow rejected the claim, saying no second airspace violation had occurred.
Russia began its own military campaign against terrorists in Syria on September 30 upon a request from the Damascus government, shortly after the upper house of the Russian parliament gave President Vladimir Putin the mandate to use military force in the Arab country.
The foreign-backed militancy in Syria, which flared in March 2011, has so far claimed the lives of over 250,000 people and displaced nearly half of the country’s population internally and externally.
Russia missiles ‘message to US’
Meanwhile, an American journalist and radio host tells Press TV’s Website that Russia’s missile defense systems in crisis-hit Syria are a message mainly directed at the United States.
In an interview with the website on Thursday, Don DeBar said that the Russian systems are neither directed at the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group nor the US-backed terrorist groups operating in the Middle Eastern country as neither are in possession of an air force.
However, he said, the purpose of the Russian systems inside Syria is to send a message “directed at the US.”
“Clearly, the only other players in the sky… who… admit to have force there are the US, Turkey, Israel and perhaps some other NATO players like the UK and France,” he said.
The presence of the Russian systems in Syria indicates “exactly how volatile the situation is in Syria in terms of the so-called big power relations and how close the US is to war with Russia.”
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