The Russian government said today that it will not shoot down further U.S. missile strikes against Syrian targets; however, they left open the possibility for Syrian anti-aircraft forces to do so.
The head of the Russian Federation Council’s Defense and Security Committee says Russian armed forces based in Syria, Senator Viktor Ozerov, told the news agency Interfax, “Our armed forces are in Syria to fight terrorism — not to defend against external threats. That’s not our mandate, and we’re not going to intercept anything.” He added that Syria has every right to attempt to do so, reported The Moscow Times.
It has been reported that Russia is beefing up the Syrian air defense network with state of the art S-300, and S-400 systems that Russia has on the ground in-country already protecting Russian air bases and troops. It is possible that any Syrian system could actually employ Russian operators as the Soviet Union did in the past in the Korean War, as well as Vietnam.
However, that seems like a big risk to take of a U.S. strike actually hitting Russian forces on the ground. Moscow could also very likely used mercenary troops as they have in Syria and East Ukraine, which gives them plausible deniability of Russian forces in theater.
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