NEW YORK (AP) — The Trump administration is warning Russia that supplying Syria with an advanced missile defense system would be a “major mistake” and should be reconsidered. It also says U.S. forces will not leave Syria until Iran leaves.
National security adviser John Bolton said Monday that delivery of the Russian S-300 would be a “significant escalation” in already high tensions in the region and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he would raise the matter this week with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov at the U.N. General Assembly.
“We think introducing the S-300s to the Syrian government would be a significant escalation by the Russians and something that we hope, if these press reports are accurate, they would reconsider,” Bolton said.
Russia announced earlier Monday that it would give Syria’s government more modern, S-300 missile defense systems after last week’s downing of a Russian plane by Syria in a friendly fire incident. The military’s reconnaissance Il-20 was shot down by the Syrian government missile defense systems responding to an Israeli airstrike. Russia laid the blame on Israel, saying Israeli fighter jets had pushed the plane into Syria’s line of fire.
“We have American forces in the area we’re concerned about,” Bolton said. “The Israelis have a legitimate right to self-defense against this Iranian aggressive behavior, and what we’re all trying to do is reduce tensions, reduce the possibility of major new hostilities. That’s why the president has spoken to this issue and why we would regard introducing the S300 as a . major mistake.”