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Russia has deployed missile defense systems to Syria to protect its military forces and equipment stationed in the Arab country, the head of the Russian air force says.
Referring to the potential threats against Russian military forces and equipment in Syria, Colonel General Viktor Bondarev said fighter jets could be hijacked in countries neighboring Syria and used to attack the Russian forces.
“We have taken into account all possible threats. We have sent not only fighters, attack aircraft, bombers, and helicopters, but also missile defense systems because any sort of force majeure situation may occur,” Bondarev said in an interview with Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya.
“For example, the stealing of a warplane in a neighboring country with Syria or having to return fire. We need to be prepared for that,” he said.
When the aircraft was passing along the Turkish border, the onboard equipment set off an alarm indicating the plane was being targeted by some kind of air defense system,” Bondarev told the Russian daily.
“The pilot had to take a split-second decision to perform an anti-missile maneuver. Well, [the plane] went a little bit into Turkish airspace. We acknowledged it frankly,” he added.
A Russian fighter jet was forced to enter Turkish airspace in early October while performing an evasive maneuver against a surface-to-air missile system, the commander of Russia’s Air Force said.
“Our fighter jet was on a combat mission in Northern Syria in very dense cloud conditions. When the aircraft was passing along the Turkish border, the onboard equipment set off an alarm indicating the plane was being targeted by some kind of air defense system,” Commander-in-Chief Viktor Bondarev told Komsomolskaya Pravda daily.
Aleksandr Grushko, Russia’s envoy to the Western military alliance, said:
“The impression is that the incident in Turkish airspace was used in order to include NATO as an organization into the information campaign unleashed in the West, which perverts and distorts the purposes of the operation conducted by the Russian air forces in Syria”.