Russia deploys air-to-air missiles in Syria

1 December 2015 (Last Updated December 1st, 2015 04:52)

Russia is equipping its Su-34 fighter jets in Syria with air-to-air missiles that are capable of striking targets within 60km.

Sukhoi

Russia is equipping its Su-34 fighter jets in Syria with air-to-air missiles that are capable of striking targets within 60km.

The missiles were deployed days after Russia's Su-24 jet was downed by Turkey on 24 November for allegedly violating its airspace.

Russian Aerospace Forces Colonel Igor Klimov said that Sukhoi Su-34 fighter-bombers had for the first time carried the missiles, in addition to bombs.

"The Russian Su-34 fighter-bombers today have for the first time taken on combat mission, not only the OFAB-500 air bombs and KAB-500 guided bombs, but also short-and medium-range air-to-air missiles.

"The planes are equipped with missiles for their defence," Klimov was quoted by Tass news agency.

While Turkey maintains that the pilots were warned several times before shooting down the plane, Russia has denied that they were warned.

The plane was carrying two pilots, one of them died while the other was rescued and shifted to a Russian airbase.

Russian President Vladimir Putin alleged that Turkey has shot down the aircraft to facilitate the supply of oil from Syria.

"We have every reason to think that the decision to shoot down our plane was dictated by the desire to protect the oil supply lines to Turkish territory."

Speaking at the climate summit in Paris, Putin said: "We have every reason to think that the decision to shoot down our plane was dictated by the desire to protect the oil supply lines to Turkish territory."

The move to deploy missiles is being opposed by the West. The US said that it would further escalate tensions in the region.

Pentagon spokesperson Michelle Baldanza told Tass: "Such systems will further complicate an already difficult situation in the skies over Syria and do nothing to further the fight against ISIL as they have no air force.

"We expect that if Russia follows through, they will abide by our Memorandum of Understanding regarding flight safety and not direct this system against Coalition aircraft."


Image: A Sukhoi Su-34 at Russian air base in Latakia, Syria. Photo: courtesy of Mil.ru.