Exclusive: Assad says Syria has received Russian missiles
Published Thursday, May 30, 2013
The first shipment of Russian S-300 missiles have arrived in Syria with the rest to arrive soon, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad said in a television interview Al-Akhbar has obtained exclusively.
"Syria has received the first batch of Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missiles," Assad declared in the interview to be aired Thursday night on the Lebanese channel al-Manar, pointing out that, "the rest of the load will arrive soon."
Assad said that the Syrian army has made great achievements on the ground against the armed groups, adding that the military balance of power has completely turned in the army's favor.
"Syria and Hezbollah are parts of the same axis. There are Hezbollah fighters in the border areas with Lebanon, but the Syrian army is the force that is fighting and managing battles in the face of the armed opposition groups," Assad said.
Assad also assured that the Syrian army is always ready to respond to any Israeli attacks.
"The Syrian army will respond immediately to any new Israeli aggression on Syrian territory," Assad said, adding that, "the Syrian government will not stand in the way of any Syrian groups who want to wage war to liberate the Golan Heights."
Assad condemned the roles of Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar in supporting and financing the opposition groups, and talked about the presence of some 1,000 armed Arab and non-Arab foreigners entering Syria with the support of these countries.
Syrian foreign minister Walid al-Mouallem said Wednesday that Assad will stay in power until elections planned for 2014, implying that he will run again and saying that "American will have nothing to do with who rules Syria."
"Assad is staying, Syria is attending the Geneva convention, and any Israeli attack will spark an inevitable counter-attack," Mouallem said.
US officials had initially said that Syria began payments for the $900 million dollar missile system on 9 May 2013, stating that the initial shipment was due three months from that date.
In response, Israel had asked Russia not to sell Syria the S-300, which it said could help President Bashar al-Assad fend off foreign military intervention.