The Russian Embassy to the US tweeted on Wednesday mocking Pentagon spokesman Josh Earnest for questioning Russia’s motives for deploying the advanced SA-23 missile defence system to Syria.
“This equipment contradicts President Putin’s own claims that their efforts in Syria are focused on extremists. I’m not aware that ISIL or al Qaeda in Syria is operating aircraft there … So I do think it raises genuine questions about Russia’s credibility and Russia’s intentions inside of Syria,” said Earnest, suggesting that the only reason for advanced air defences in Syria would be to challenge the air forces of the US and other nations in the coalition to fight ISIS.
In response, the Russian Embassy the following:
All jokes aside, #Russia will take every defensive measure necessary to protect its personnel stationed in #Syria from terrorist threat. pic.twitter.com/6vc4X9lGyT
— Russian Embassy, USA (@RusEmbUSA) October 5, 2016
The tweet appears to mock Earnest and taunt the US to intervene militarily in Syria, and that doing so would be assisting terrorists. For its part, Russia has repeatedly denied the existence of moderate opposition to Assad, routinely characterising all who oppose the regime as terrorists in equal measure.
Meanwhile, the US has vetted and backs a number of moderate groups without ties to terrorist groups like al-Qaeda while leading an international coalition in an air campaign against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
However, military intervention in Syria against the Assad regime by the US has been repeatedly suggested by top military officials and political leaders as Assad, with Russian backing, shows little regard for international law or civilian life.
On Wednesday, Senator John McCain wrote an editorial in the Wall Street Journal urging the president to act against Assad, writing “As bad as this conflict is now, it can get much worse — and likely will,” should the US military continue to ignore the Assad regime’s transgressions.
Even Barack Obama himself declared a “red line” in Syria, and said that should Assad use chemical weapons, the US would intervene against him in 2013. However, Assad did cross that line, with multiple, and well documented cases where chemical weapons have been used, and the Obama administration refused to make good on their promise.
Now, with the deployment of yet another advanced missile defence system in Syria, the US’s options have been further limited.
Analysts say the S-300 can intercept “any” US cruise missile, meaning a bombardment from US Navy ships in Mediterranean is off the table.
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