Israel is concerned about reported Russian deliveries of advanced MiG-31 fighter planes to Syria as part of an armaments drive, an Israeli daily reported on Tuesday.
The MiG-31, considered one of the best fighters in the world, can carry guided missiles with a range of more than 200 kilometres and is capable of striking 24 different targets simultaneously, Yediot Aharonot newspaper reported. "This information is more concerning when put in the context of massive armaments purchases made recently by the Syrians," Yuval Steinitz, an MP from Israel's right-wing opposition Likud party, was quoted as telling the daily.
"If Syria acquires the MiG-31 we can no longer rule out the idea that this country is preparing for war," said Steinitz.
A Russian newspaper reported on Tuesday that Russia has started delivering five MiG-31E interceptors to Syria as part of an agreement reached this year, and that Moscow also inclined to sell Damascus its MiG-29M/M2 dual role fighters. "Iran may be the big winner from the deal, since there exists an Iranian-Syrian mutual defense agreement, and Iran is financing Damascus's purchase," reported the Russian paper Kommersant.