The Russian military has reportedly used advanced S-300 surface-to-air missile systems to fire at Israeli warplanes during a recent strike in Syria, signaling a major shift in Moscow’s attitude to the Israeli regime.
Israel’s Channel 13 news said on Monday that the unprecedented incident occurred on Friday night, when Israeli military aircraft bombed several targets near Masyaf in the western-central province of Hama last week.
Syria’s official news agency SANA, citing a military source, reported that Israeli aircraft fired several missiles at some areas in the central part of the country at 23:20 p.m. local time (1720 GMT) on Friday, but most of the projectiles were intercepted and destroyed before hitting any of their targets.
The source stressed that the latest aggression by the occupying Israeli regime also killed five people and injured seven others, including a child, and resulted in “material losses.”
The Channel 13 report said the Russian S-300 batteries opened fire as the Israeli jets were departing the area.
The report noted that Syria’s S-300 surface-to-air missile systems are operated by the Russian military, and cannot be fired without their approval.
It went on to say that the S-300 radar did not lock onto the Israeli jets and thus did not present a serious threat to the warplanes.
The Channel 13 report said it was not immediately clear if the S-300 missile fire was a one-time event or if it was a Russian signal to Israel that it was changing its policy. Israeli officials declined comment on the missile launch.
Multiple sources suggested that the S-300 launch was a retaliatory signal from Russia over Israel’s support for Ukraine.
Amos Gilead, a retired Israeli general officer who served, among other roles, as head of the Military intelligence Research Division, suggested that the use of the S-300 may have been a warning “to demonstrate that Moscow is not pleased with some of the Israeli operations in Syria.”
Observers have already predicted that the Russia-Ukraine crisis could put Israel in a difficult position, as the Tel Aviv regime has good relations with both Moscow and Kiev.
Last month, Russian Ambassador to Israel Anatoly Viktorov warned that Moscow would introduce retaliatory measures against Israel in case the Tel Aviv regime supplied Ukraine with military equipment and aid amid the military conflict there.
“We are carefully checking this information and will respond accordingly if it is confirmed,” Viktorov told Russian state television on April 21.
The comments came a day after Israeli minister for military affairs Benny Gantz said Israel would provide Ukraine with helmets and flak jackets.
Earlier, the Russian Foreign Ministry had summoned Israeli Ambassador to Moscow Alexander Ben Zvi after Tel Aviv denounced Russia’s military operation in Ukraine.
It came after Israeli foreign minister Yair Lapid accused Russia of committing “war crimes” in Ukraine, alleging that there was no “justification” for Russia’s military campaign against its western neighbor.
Back in early April, the Israeli regime voted in favor of a United Nations General Assembly resolution suspending the Russian Federation’s membership in the UN Human Rights Council.
Reacting to the vote, the Russian foreign ministry called the resolution “unlawful and politically motivated.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the military offensive against Ukraine on February 24. The conflict has provoked a unanimous response from Western countries, which have imposed a long list of sanctions on Moscow.
The United States and its Western allies have also stepped up military support for Ukraine, sending a wide array of defensive weapons meant to hold off Russia's advance.
Russia says it will halt the operation instantly if Kiev meets Moscow's list of demands, including never applying to join NATO.