Rear Adm. Vadim Kulit claims advanced missile system intercepted eight missiles fired by Israeli jets last week. Shift in Russian policy approved by Washington has been relayed to Jerusalem, Moscow official says.
Russia assisted Syria’s aerial defense system in thwarting an Israeli attack near the city of Homs in western Syria, a senior Russian military official said Saturday.
Rear Adm. Vadim Kulit, who heads the Russian military’s Reconciliation Center in Syria, was quoted by Russia’s state-owned TASS news agency as saying Russia’s advanced BUK-M2E missile system intercepted eight missiles fired by Israeli F-16 jets.
Experts have questioned the Russian-manufactured system’s ability to intercept advanced guided missiles. In addition, images and video of explosions on the ground in Homs alongside reports in media outlets affiliated with rebels in the area of the destruction of weapons warehouses indicate the airstrikes attributed to Israel hit their targets.
A Russian source told the London-based pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat Moscow had already begun to aid the Assad regime in “closing off Syrian airspace to Israeli planes.”
The senior Russian official said, “The decision is directly tied to summit talks between [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin and US President [Joe] Biden last month.” The source claimed Washington did not approve of continued Israelis strikes on Syria and that Russia had received authorization from the US administration for the move.
“Moscow was cautious in its actions against Israeli aggression against its ally in Syria because Israel has a direct line of communication with Washington and carried out all of its moves in coordination with it. Now that Russia has a direct line of communication with the Americans, we’ve succeeded in confirming Washington does not give its blessing to its attacks,” the Russian source said.
The source said Russian military experts were already assisting Syrian anti-tank teams in intercepting Israeli missiles in the field through the use of the Buk missile system.
“Already last week the Israelis felt the aerial defense systems that were effectively activated and intercepted all of their missiles,” the source said. According to the source, Moscow had relayed a direct message to Israel on the shift in Russian policy, which would now see it provide Syria with consultants and more innovative weapons.
The interview with the pan-Arab newspaper followed two statements by the Russian Defense Ministry condemning attacks attributed to Israel in Aleppo and Homs provinces. The ministry had previously refrained from commenting on Israeli strikes in Syria.
According to Syrian reports, a military research facility involved in converting missiles into precision missiles for Hezbollah and pro-Iranian militias in Syria was targeted on Tuesday. Five militia members were killed in the attack. Airstrikes also targeted a military airport in Homs, Thursday. According to some Syrian media outlets, Syrian aerial defense systems succeeded in thwarting the attack.
Hezbollah commander Imad al-Amin was killed in western Syria, media outlets aligned with the Shiite terrorist organization reported. The reports noted al-Amin was from a town in southern Lebanon but did not provide any information on the circumstances of his death outside of noting he was killed while “fulfilling the duty of jihad.”
Earlier, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor aligned with opposition groups in the country, reported a senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander Ahmed Qureshi had also been killed in Syria. It said the circumstances of his death remained unclear and it was not yet known whether he had been killed in airstrikes attributed to Israel in the country last week.
According to a report in the Riyadh-based Al Arabiya international news channel, Qureshi was one of the more senior commanders of the Fatemiyoun Brigades who had been stationed in Syria since 2013. The outlet reported Qureshi had taken part in battles with late Revolutionary Guards Commander Qassem Soleimani.