Israel warns Russia against selling arms to the President of Syria, Bashar Assad saying they will retaliate if the deal goes through. NBC News reports that Israel sees the arms deal between Russia and Syria as a threat and warns they will not hesitate to retaliate. The Israelis did not specify how they would retaliate.
According to the Associated Press a top Russian official said on Tuesday that the government of Russia is committed to the sale and will deliver the S-300 air defense missiles to Syria. Reports say that Israel fears the sale of the missiles because the balance of power might shift into the hands of hostile groups and place civilians in danger.
Israel is concerned with the sale of arms to Syria and has in the past few months launched air strikes destroying shipments of weapons heading toward Hezbollah. AP reports that Israel has not claimed responsibility for the strikes.
"At this stage I can't say there is an escalation," said Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon in a statement. "This shipments have not been sent on their way yet. And I hope they will not be sent."
"If God forbid they do reach Syria," Yaalon added. "We will know what to do."
Concern about the shipment of arms to Syria comes after the EU lifted an arms embargo prohibiting European countries from selling weapons to Syria. The prohibition will expire August 1 and not be renewed.
According to The Guardian, British officials say lifting the embargo was politically motivated and that Britain and France have not made a decision yet, about sending arms to Syria. The Guardia writes,
"Whoever controls logistics will command loyalty," a senior British official said. "It's about dragging some of these fighters back from the extremists."
The senior official stressed that any future British arms supplies would not include portable anti-aircraft missiles. "There is not going to be an airliner brought down by some weapon we provide," he said.
Israel warns Russia about the sale of arms in the hopes of keeping the weapons out of the hands of those extremists who would turn around and use the arms against Israel.