Report: Russia Begins Delivery of Fighters to Syria
Israel is concerned about reported Russian deliveries of advanced MiG-31 fighter planes to its enemy Syria as part of an armaments drive, the top-selling Hebrew daily reported on June 19.
The MiG-31, considered one of the best fighters in the world, can carry guided missiles with a range of more than 125 miles and is capable of striking 24 different targets simultaneously, Yediot Aharonot said.
"This information is more concerning when put in the context of massive armaments purchases made recently by the Syrians," Yuval Steinitz, of Israelís right-wing opposition Likud party, was quoted as telling the daily.
"If Syria acquires the MiG-31, we can no longer rule out the idea that this country is preparing for war," said Steinitz, a former chairman of Israelís defense and foreign affairs parliamentary committee.
A Russian newspaper reported June 19 that Russia has begun delivering five MiG-31E interceptors to Syria as part of an agreement reached this year, and that Moscow also plans to sell Damascus its MiG-29M/M2 dual role fighters.
The Israeli media have recently carried alarmist reports that a war with Syria could erupt as early as this summer, following Israeli intelligence reports that Damascus was preparing for such a conflict.
Two Israeli cabinet ministers have confirmed, however, that the government has approached Syria about the possibility of renewing peace talks.
Peace talks between Israel and Syria collapsed in 2000, mainly because of a dispute over the return of the strategic Golan Heights, which the Jewish state captured in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and annexed in 1981.
Source : Defence Industry Daily (Defense News) AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, JERUSALEM
Photo : Russian MiG-31B