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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

General Says Syria Sought Missiles

For MTThe S-300, shown at a firing range, is Russia's most powerful air defense missile.
A retired general said Tuesday that Moscow had turned down Syria's request to buy state-of-the-art air defense missiles several years ago, and said the existing Syrian arsenal could offer little resistance in case of a U.S. attack.

"Several years ago, Syria proposed buying modern air defense systems, including S-300 missiles, from Russia but Moscow refused," retired Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov said, according to the Interfax-Military News Agency.

The S-300 is Russia's most powerful air defense missile; its latest version has a range of 200 kilometers. Russian arms traders boast that the S-300 surpasses U.S. Patriot missiles.

"We chalked up the refusal to deliver weapons to Syria to the possibility of tilting the balance of forces in the region," Ivashov was quoted as saying. "Israel and the nations supporting it sharply opposed the contract."

Ivashov, who headed the Defense Ministry's department for international cooperation until President Vladimir Putin fired him in 2001, said Syria's air defenses are "more combat-ready than the Iraqi ones, but they are unable to counter possible U.S. aggression."

Washington has issued harsh warnings to Syria to surrender its weapons of mass destruction and stop harboring members of Saddam Hussein's inner circle or face sanctions.

Interfax quoted unidentified Russian diplomats as voicing skepticism about the U.S. allegations against Syria, saying they were unfounded and harmful to stability in the region.

Another retired general, Nikolai Bezborodov, who is deputy head of the State Duma's defense committee, warned of imminent U.S. action against Syria.

"The Americans are now in a state of euphoria over their victory and feel confident that they can solve any problem," Bezborodov said, according to Interfax-Military News.