Russian media reports suggested the S-300 missiles have not made it into Assad’s hands yet, but fighter jets might be.
Russia has not yet delivered the rumored S-300 air defense missile systems to Syria, Russian media reports said Friday.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who can count Moscow as his last remaining ally, seemed to imply on Thursday that part of the controversial shipment had arrived, without referring to the missiles by name.
The S-300 missiles would make a no-fly zone in Syrian air space particularly hard to establish, and would make it possible to shoot down aircrafts in the air above neighbors Turkey and Israel.
A source close to the Defense Ministry in Moscow reportedly said the “hardware itself” had not arrived yet, though the contract was still in place, Reuters reported.
Sources quoted by Russian outlets Kommersant and Vedomosti also said that no delivery of missiles had taken place. Vedomosti said the S-300 contract was worth $1 billion and was agreed upon in 2010.
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Meanwhile, Russia aircraft maker MiG said Friday that it planned to sign an agreement that would send 10 fighter jets to Syria. Sergei Korotkov, MiG’s director general, said a delegation from Syria was discussing the contract for the MiG-29 M/M2 fighters, according to the Associated Press.
The AP noted that he could be referring to a previous deal that was put on hold during Syria’s civil war.
The war between Assad’s troops and Syrian rebels has claimed more than 80,000 people according to United Nations estimates, and the conflict is threatening to spill over the country’s borders.
The UN Security Council on Friday blacklisted Jabhat al-Nusra, one of the rebel factions fighting against Assad, as an alias of Al Qaeda in Iraq. The decision will place the extremist group under sanctions including an arms embargo, a freeze on assets and a travel ban.
Jabhat al-Nusra was designated a terrorist organization by the United States in December 2012.