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13 November 2015
Putin rolls out the big guns: Russia deploys advanced 'Growler' anti-aircraft missile system in Syria able to hit as far as Tel Aviv
Vladimir Putin has deployed an advanced anti-aircraft missile defense system to Syria with a range capable of taking down jets as far away as Tel Aviv.
The Russian military released photographs of the S-400 Air Defense System, known to NATO as SA-21 'Growler', at the Latakia Airbase on the Syrian coast.
Analysts believe that that the military hardware, circled, forms part of the S-400 Air Defense System, known to NATO as the SA-21 'Growler' which has been deployed to Latakia Airbase in Syria, pictured
The advanced missile system, which is understood to have a maximum range of 250 miles is capable of bringing down an aircraft at a maximum altitude of 90,000 feet - which is more than twice the height of a cruising passenger airliner.
The Russian Ministry of Defence invited a group of 50 foreign journalists to the airbase where the air-defence radar system could be clearly seen.
From the heavily-defended airbase, the missile system can cover an area covering most of Syria, southern Turkey, Cyprus, the eastern Mediterranean as well as much of Israel.
The SA-21 Growler can cover the airspace over RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus, Tel Aviv, Israel and most of Syria
It is understood that the weapon system is capable of monitoring and targeting British aircraft using RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus.
Russia has been steadily building up its forces in Syria, with increasing numbers of fighter-bombers and helicopter gun ships being deployed at its airbase.
Russian analyst Yury Barmin said on Twitter: 'Alleged S400 complex radar was spotted at the Russian air base in Latakia. Another "accidental" leak by Russia's MoD.
The Russian military invited members of the media to the airbase on the Syrian coast to view their operation
'By deploying S400 to Latakia, Russia sends signal to Turkey and Israel but also creates a shield over Syria's coastal areas.'
The S-400 is also able to intercept cruise missiles and other potential airborne threats.
It is also believed to be a major threat to military aircraft such as the RAF Tornado and the US Air Force F-15 and F-16.
The S400, pictured, has a maximum range of 250 miles and can intercept aircraft flying up to 90,000 feet
Russian defence officials claim it can even target the fifth-generation F-22 Raptor aircraft.
Russia is also selling the older-generation S-300 system to Iran and is considering exports of the newer weapon to India, China and Saudi Arabia.
According to a Russian missile commander speaking to Sputnik News: 'Even if a plane is flying low and with the same speed as a vehicle moving on the ground, the radar will show it on the screen. For the S-400 there is no such thing as “stealth” aircraft, the system will see it and will shoot it down.'
Russian defence officials have claimed that over the past two days its aircraft have performed 85 combat sorties attacking 277 terrorist locations in Aleppo, Damascus, Lattakia, Hama, Homs and Idib provinces.
As well as aircraft, it is also able to intercept cruise missiles and other potential airborne threats
They said an Su-24M bomber attacked an ISIS armoured convoy in Homs destroying three tanks and two infantry fighting vehicle.
As pictures of the advanced missile system emerged, Russia claimed that ISIS and other terror groups in the Middle East have access to mustard gas.
Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told Tass: 'Islamic State and some other radical Islamist groups in the Middle East have indeed gained access to the components and technologies for the production of chemical weapons and began using them more actively in Syria and Iraq
'If earlier we talked about the use of household and industrial chlorine by them as chemical weapons, now there is verified information about the use of warfare poisonous agents, including mustard gas. This gas is also used for the purposes of provocation to blame the government for that.'
Russia has claimed that its pilots have attacked almost 300 targets in Syria over the past 48 hours
The deployment of the S-400 is seen as a massive escalation of Russia's air-defence capability in the region.
Zakharova accused the United States of trying to encourage regime change in Syria and other areas.
She said: 'Russia’s steps in the sphere of boosting defence are largely caused by the US activity, including the American nuclear potential improvement, deployment of the global missile defence system with a view to upsetting the strategic parity and bringing NATO infrastructure closer to Russian borders.
'We cannot remain indifferent to this or ignore the attempts to undermine our security
'We have repeatedly pointed to Washington’s involvement in illegal methods of regime change in a number of countries, which, in particular, led to the tragic consequences, for example, in Ukraine. If we look back a little further, who else but Washington invaded Iraq under a false pretense. This is not exactly what one calls global stability.'