Syria has received a shipment of Russian-made S-300 missile defense systems, Syrian President Bashar Assad revealed in an interview on Hezbollah TV.
"Syria has received the first shipment of Russian anti-aircraft S-300 rockets. The rest of the shipment will arrive soon," the Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar quoted the Assad saying Thursday in excerpts of an interview Assad gave to Hezbollah's al-Manar station.
Assad warned Israel that Syria would retaliate against any Israeli attack on Syria. He said he wouldn't prevent Syrian groups from trying to liberate the Golan Heights, an area Israel captured in the 1967 Six Days War.
He also stressed the strong bond between his army and Hezbollah fighters in the interview, saying "Syria and Hezbollah are part of the same axis," the Lebanese daily quoted him saying.
The announcement of the missile system's delivery came days after Russia said it would go ahead with the sale of the advanced missile defense system to Syria despite objections from Israel, the United States and other countries. Russia said the move would go toward stabilizing the region.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Wednesday that Russia was disappointed with an EU decision to end a ban on arms sales to Syrian opposition groups, saying Moscow may reconsider its own commitments to restrictions on weapons deliveries there.
"Every decision has two sides. If one side lifts restrictions, the other may consider itself free from observing earlier commitments," the Russia agency RIA Novosti quoted Shoigu saying at a news conference in Finland.
Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, have warned against the delivery of the S-300 system to Syria, saying it would threaten civilian aircraft using Ben-Gurion International Airport.
Earlier this week, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon told Channel One Israel will know what to do if the Russian-made system reaches Damascus.