Agencies (Qasioun) – The head of US Central Command, General Joseph Votel, said on Thursday that Russian deployment of advanced anti-aircraft missiles in Syria is a “needless escalation,”.
Votel blasted Russia over its unnecessary deployment of the S-300 surface-to-air missile system, which Moscow installed after the accidental downing of a Russian military plane by Syrian forces.
The deployment of the missiles “appears to be an effort to cover for Iranian and Syrian regime nefarious activities in Syria. So, again, I think this is a needless, needless escalation,” he told Pentagon reporters.
Votel also said that Washington was aware of the capabilities of the S-300 missiles, and their deployment to Syria would not affect US military activities.
“Our forces here have been operating under a latent anti-air threat for some time and we will continue to do so,” he said.
The American general also said Thursday that Iran was using Syria as cover to target other countries.
“We believe they are moving lethal capabilities into Syria that threaten neighbors in the region,” he said.
He added, however, that the United States is not seeking conflict with Iran, even as some Trump administration officials have stepped up rhetoric against Tehran.
“I don’t think we’re seeking to go to war with Iran, and I don’t think that’s what we’re focused on,” he said.
Trump has been clear the Iranian regime needs to “cease its destabilizing behavior and policy that spreads violence and human misery throughout the Middle East,” Votel said.
“The principle way that we are approaching that right now is through diplomatic and economic pressure. And I support that, I don’t see that necessarily as being on the road to war with Iran.”
Such activities “give us a little bit of pause,” Votel said, noting that Iran had not warned the US-led coalition in Syria about the strike, potentially putting coalition forces at risk.
I “characterize what they’re doing as reckless, unsafe and escalatory,” he said.
Russia announced last week that it would boost security measures in Syria following the downing of a Russian military plane by an S-200 missile, in a mistake that Moscow blamed on nearby Israeli planes.
Source: The Times Of Israel