Russia Demands New Protocol With Israel Over Syria Airspace

YERUSHALAYIM -

Tense consultations between Russia and Israel following the downing of a Russian plane in Syria recently have apparently led to a Russian demand for Israel to provide it more advance notice of air strikes in that country.

In mixed public statements, Russia seemed inclined to blame Israel for the incident, though Yerushalayim denied responsibility, saying that the plane was brought down after Israeli aircraft were already back over the border.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Thursday said that Israel would not accede to the Russian demands.

“We will not accept any restrictions on our freedom of operation, and when it comes to national security, we will take action,” Liberman told Army Radio.

Meanwhile, newly released satellite photographs indicated the deployment of four S-300 batteries, advanced Russian anti-aircraft systems near a suspected Syrian chemical weapons site, according to Hadashot.

ImageSat International said the images were of four S-300 batteries at a newly constructed site near the northwestern Syrian city of Masyaf, where Israel has reportedly carried out raids on targets allegedly tied to Syria’s chemical weapons program.

The site was said not to be operational yet, and it was unclear whether it was being manned by Russia or Syria.

It could also be the S-300s are intended to protect a Russian S-400 anti-aircraft battery, about a mile from there.