A Syrian military delegation arrived in Moscow earlier this week to discuss the possibility of purchasing a Russian missile air-defense system known as the S-300, according to a report by Haaretz newspaper on Thursday.
The paper quoted Russian media reports as saying that similar discussions were to be held with Jordan, India and China.
Over the past few years, different reports of arms deals between Russia and Syria have been published. But apart from minor arms deals, mainly the acquisition of anti-tank Cornett missiles in 1998, most of the reports have proven inaccurate, said the paper.
According to Haaretz, a Syrian team has been in Russia for the past three months, ever since Syrian Defense Minister Mustafa Tlass visited Moscow in order to discuss the possibility of purchasing arms.
Moscow then reported that Tlass had discussed the purchasing of S-300 systems, Sukhoi-27 fighter jets, and advanced T-80 tanks.
Israel and the United States, said Haaretz, are expected to pressure Moscow not to sell the arms to Syria.
Moscow wants to sell weapons to Damascus as part of Russia's strategy to counterbalance Turkey's position in the Middle East, according to a report by the World Tribune.com in 1999.
They said Moscow had sold weapons to all of Turkey's neighbors, including Iraq and Iran.
According to the Tribune, late Syrian president Hafez Assad in his visit to Moscow discussed the purchases of S-300 anti-aircraft system, the Sukhoi-27 and T-80 tanks.
Turkish Foreign Ministry Deputy Spokesman Sermet Atacanli said at the time that Assad's trip to Moscow was an issue for Russia and Syria. "But we will make the necessary evaluation of its likely results and its impact on the region," Atacanli said.
Turkish officials said then that they doubted that a Syrian arms deal would significantly change the strategic balance in the region – Albawaba.com
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