Luke Harding and Phoebe Greenwood in Tel Aviv, and Paul Owen
May 31, 2013
Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, has said Russia will deliver anti-aircraft missiles to Syria – a claim likely to dramatically increase tensions in the region and which could provoke the Israelis to launch a future strike against the weapons.
In an interview with Lebanon’s al-Manar channel Assad refused to confirm if Moscow had already begun to deliver long-range S-300 air defence rockets.
But he said he expected the Kremlin to fulfill the order, and added: “All our agreements with Russia will be implemented and parts of them have already been implemented.”
Assad also claimed his forces were winning the battle on the ground and had scored “major victories” against the armed opposition. “The balance of power is now with the Syrian army,” he told the TV channel, which is owned by the Shia militant group Hezbollah, whose fighters support the Assad regime.