‘Iranians Are in Syria Legally, They Were Invited by Syrian Gov’t’ – Professor

© AP Photo / Hassan Ammar / Syrian government supporters wave Syrian, Iranian and Russian flags as they chant slogans against U.S. President Trump during demonstrations following a wave of U.S., British and French military strikes to punish President Bashar Assad for suspected chemical attack against civilians, in Damascus, Syria, Saturday, April 14, 2018
Syrian government supporters wave Syrian, Iranian and Russian flags as they chant slogans against U.S. President Trump during demonstrations following a wave of U.S., British and French military strikes to punish President Bashar Assad for suspected chemical attack against civilians, in Damascus, Syria, Saturday, April 14, 2018 - Sputnik International
The US National Security Adviser John Bolton said on Monday that it was Iran that's responsible for the downing of the Russian Il-20 aircraft in Syria last week, while Moscow said data proves that the Israeli Air Force was to blame. Bolton also called Russian plans to supply Syria with the S-300 missile system as a “significant escalation.”

Sputnik discussed this with Professor Marcello Ferrada de Noli — editor-in-chief of the geopolitical magazine online "The Indicter" — TheIndicter.com.

Sputnik: What do you make of the comments by US National Security Advisor John Bolton indicating that Iran is, in fact, responsible for the downing of the Russian plane last week?

Marcello Ferrada de Noli: Bolton said that as long as the Iranian forces are outside Iran's borders, that would motivate the presence of the US military in Syria. This is a contradiction of terms because by being stationed in Syria, the US military also is outside the USA's borders. So, this is a constellation of responses aiming to neutralize the peace efforts taken in the area by the powers which are mainly focused there, such as Russia and its allies.

READ MORE: US to Find Options for New Sanctions Against Iran If Sees No Changes — Bolton

Sputnik: As you've mentioned, Bolton said that the US troops would not leave Syria as long as there are Iranian troops there; he also said that that also included Iranian proxies and militias. How does this statement correspond with international law?

Marcello Ferrada de Noli: We have to recall that the Iranians are in Syria legally, they were invited by the Syrian government, which is also legally appointed. In the case of the US forces and other powers, they are not invited to Syria; they are occupying the territory illegally, according to international law.

Sputnik: Russia has decided to respond to the downing of its plane, the Il-20, by sending S-300 air defense systems. Can you talk about the significance of that move? What would that do for the balance of power in the region? Will this, actually, serve to increase tensions among all of the parties that are on the ground in Syria?

The Russian Defense Ministry released detailed information on Il-20 crash in Syria - Sputnik International
WATCH 3D Reconstruction of Il-20 Downing in Syria, Released by Russian MoD
Marcello Ferrada de Noli: This has been reported as extraordinary news, but that was not actually out of the blue. There is a long chain of developments here leading to the final implementation of the S-300 supply to the Syrian military, otherwise, the presence in Syria of the S-300 or even the S-400 systems, which have been deployed at the main Russian military bases, is a  known fact from a much earlier date. Furthermore, already in 2013, there were plans to supply the Syrian military with these defense systems; those plans were put on hold after appeals by the Israelis, which were made at the time.

That pledge done by Russia in 2013 of not sending those systems to Syria was clearly declared obsolete by Russia already in April this year; it was after the tripartite strike on Syria when Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov declared that "Moscow was ready to consider any options to help Syrian forces to curb further aggression." So, this can hardly be considered as a total surprise or an abrupt escalation out of the blue, as the Western media more or less are presenting this.

The difference here has been made not by Russia but by the Israeli attack on Latakia, which ended in the downing of the Russian aircraft. That is the new development and I would suppose that the main aspect comprised in the final agreement between Israel and Russia along all these years of halting the S-300's arrival to the Syrian defense forces, must have been a pledge by the Israeli Air Force of never causing any damage to the Russian military there, let alone events that could result in the killing of Russian military personnel, like was [the case] in Latakia.

READ MORE: Russian S-300 Supplies to Deter Israel From Reckless Attacks on Syria — Official

There we have another important issue which, in my opinion, should deserve more focus in the current geopolitical analysis and media reporting on this S-300 issue. It is that the defense system to be delivered to Syria is about a modern, updated defense system which includes mechanisms able to distinguish with heightened precision "foes" from "friendly" aircraft.

So, the emphasis is clearly that the S-300 is clearly aimed to protect the lives and increase the security of Russian servicemen stationed in Syria. This is what the Russian authorities simply meant when they announced that they will give an appropriate response regarding the Latakia incidents.

S-300 Favorite surface-to-air missile systems battalion during a march conducted as part of a bilateral drill involving air defense and aviation forces of the Western Military District - Sputnik International
Turkey, Israel to Lose Out Most if Syria Gets S-300 From Russia - UAE Think Tank
Sputnik: I believe that it was an S-200 that was responsible for the downing of the Russian plane with the 15 servicemen on board who lost their lives. You're saying that the difference between this technology and the technology that's currently on the ground in Syria is that this will help to identify friendly vessels and therefore save lives. It's been said that there's a possibility of partially closing Syrian airspace using this S-300 defense system. How much of a game changer is the introduction of the S-300 system? What other capabilities does it have?

Marcello Ferrada de Noli: The S-300 and S-400 systems have already been deployed on Syrian territory, around the main Russian military bases. It was never an issue of whether it would be a problem of the violation of the military airspace there. The military airspace in Syria has been violated by the Israeli Air Force.

The views and opinions expressed in the article are those of Marcello Ferrada de Noli and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik

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