Israel and the U.S. are trying to halt a new deal for SA-18 shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles between Russia and Syria. Israeli security officials are concerned Syria might transfer the sophisticated weapons to Lebanon’s Hizbullah, which could use them to attack Israeli helicopters.
According to Haaretz, Israeli officials said that although the Syrians have made offers to the Russians for the SA-18s, no deal has been finalized. Israel has recently raised its concern to U.S. officials, and asked for help to stop the supply of the missiles to Damascus.
According to the Israeli newspaper, Washington has appealed to officials in Moscow, asking that the proposed missile sale to Syria be stopped, because a transfer of anti-aircraft weapons to Lebanon might escalate violence in the Middle East. Officials in Washington said they would continue exerting pressure on the Russians, Israeli sources told the daily.
The SA-18 missiles were developed in the 1980s and modeled on the American Stinger that caused heavy losses to Soviet helicopters during its war in Afghanistan. Recent reports suggested the Russians have started manufacturing an upgraded version of the missile for export. The size of the warhead on the new SA-18 has reportedly been doubled. (Albawaba.com)