Syria civil war: Russia's S-300 anti-aircraft missiles won't reach Assad until autumn, claims official
Claim contradicts Assad's claim that the missiles were already in the country
The Syrian government won't receive Russia's controversial shipment of advanced missiles until the autumn, according to a Russian news agency.
Interfax quotes an arms industry source, contradicting claims from Syria's President Bashar al-Assad.
In the last two days, Assad reportedly told Lebanon's Hezbollah-owned television station Al-Manar that the regime has received its first shipment of the S-300 air defence missiles - comments which further ramped up tensions in the region and threatened to undermine efforts to hold UN peace talks.
The S-300s have a range of up to 125 miles and can track and strike multiple targets simultaneously.
Although Syria already possesses Russian-supplied air defences, the S-300s would bolster its armoury, allowing it to counter air strikes launched from foreign airspace, such as those believed to have been launched by Israel from its own and Lebanese airspace.
Interfax's source also indicated the timing of the delivery of the arms would depend on how the Syrian situation develops.
Syria's civil war, now in its third year, is thought to have killed more than 70,000 and displaced more than one million. It is fought between forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and rebels, mostly from the disparate Free Syrian Army.
The conflict has spilled periodically across the ceasefire line and Syria's borders with Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey, threatening to engulf the region.
Most recently, elite government troops have been sent to reinforce an offensive against the heavily damaged town of Qusayr outside Homs, where rebels have been under attack for a week. There, Hezbollah fighters are fighting openly in the conflict for the first time.
Elsewhere, the head of Russian aircraft maker MiG said Russia planned to provide Syria with 10 MiG-29 fighter planes, and was discussing details with a Syrian delegation in Moscow, according to the RIA news agency.
Israel had already said that Russia's plan to supply Syria with the missiles would be treated as a threat and that it was prepared to use force to stop the delivery.
The move by Russia came four days after the European Union lifted an arms embargo on Syria, allowing its 27 member countries to send weapons to rebels fighting to overthrow Assad's regime, which itself prompted fears of an arms race in the Middle East.
Bill Clinton portrait features Monica Lewinsky reference, artist admits
Japanese island overrun with cats after population explodes
Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
Pornhub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
- 1 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 2 This is what the photographer has to say about the picture of a weasel riding a woodpecker
- 3 Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
- 4 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 5 Average penis size revealed: Scientists attempt to find what is 'normal' to reassure concerned men
£16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...
£9 - £13 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a s...
£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...
£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...