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Moscow is Said to Withhold Anti-Air Missiles from Syria

A Kremlin staffer on Friday said Russia has no immediate plans to equip Syria's government with advanced S-300 anti-air systems, even though rebels in the country's civil war are now expected to receive expanded military aid from the United States, RIA Novosti reported.

Presidential aide Yuri Ushakov said “the [S-300] issue has not been raised yet,” and added Moscow is "not competing (with Washington) on Syria."

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin on Wednesday renewed his government's pleading for Russia to abstain from providing Syria with S-300 systems, saying that the air and missile defense technology could be used to target both civilian and military Israeli airplanes, Bloomberg reported.

Jerusalem and Washington have pressed Moscow not to export S-300 batteries to the Bashar Assad regime. The systems were purchased under a weapons contract that predates the early 2011 start of the Syrian civil war, which is estimated to have already killed roughly 93,000 people. 

The S-300 can destroy aircraft and some missiles at ranges of up to 125 miles.

"In an unstable situation, you never know whose hands they may end up in," Elkin said, possibly alluding to the Assad regime's close relationship with the extremist group Hezbollah. "The weapons change the rules of the game in the Middle East."

Israel wants, at a minimum, for Russia to put the export of the S-300s on hold "until the situation in Syria clears up," the deputy minister said.

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