04:04 GMT17 February 2020
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    Israel’s new ground-to-ground missile force, kickstarted with a half a billion dollars, will continue to receive funding to the tune of $2 billion over the next 10 years, according to a new report.

    Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman made the decision to create the new force in early January, according to the Haaretz newspaper. The unit was said to be part of the army's ground forces and will operate surface-to-surface missiles with a range of 300 kilometers (186 miles).

    The funding figures originate from unnamed sources who spoke with Breaking Defense.

    The unit was launched as a result of the failures of the American M270 MLRS, or Multiple Launch Rocket System, to meet operational necessities. It isn't known where the MLRS falls short, but the Israeli version can only reach distances of 70 km. 

    The country's new missile unit will include extended-range missiles like Extra, meant to replace air-ground weapons for mid- to long-range strikes, with a 150 km range.

    Israel had already been manufacturing Extra for foreign buyers; however, Israel's navy and air force are also expected to adopt them.

    After Israel attacked alleged Iranian targets in Syria May 9, continuing a series of strikes that began an hour after US President Donald Trump pulled out of the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement the day prior, Syria claimed that surface-to-surface missiles were used against their forces.

    Vladimir Kozhin, Russia's foreign aid adviser, said that the Kremlin had no plan to outfit Syria with more S-300 anti-air defense systems, despite both heavy speculation they were planning to do so and Syrian Ambassador to Russia Riyad Haddad's comments to reporters that a delivery had arrived a month prior. "We never announced these deliveries as such. However, we said that after the strikes [by the US, France and the UK in April], Russia reserves the right to do whatever it deems necessary," Kozhin said, adding that Syria had "everything they needed."

    Haddad's remarks were also denied by a "Russian military and diplomatic source," Sputnik News reported.

    Nonetheless, Syria still plans on beefing up its air defense, President Bashar al-Assad told RT International for an interview published May 31. "Our air defense is much stronger than before, thanks to the Russian support, and the recent attacks by the Israelis and by the Americans and British and French proved that we are in a better situation," he said. "The only option is to improve our air defense, this is the only thing we can do, and we are doing that."

    The Syrian president also accused Israel of lying about targeting Iranian installations in his country and of supporting Islamist insurgents. "We had tens of Syrian martyrs and wounded soldiers, not a single Iranian," Assad said.


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