The Syrian regime announced today that they have received the first shipment of advanced S-300 missiles from Russia:
Syrian dictator President Bashar Assad told Lebanese network Al Manar, the voice of U.S.-designated Islamic terror group Hezbollah, that he is in possession of the first shipment of the missiles and will receive the rest "soon." The interview was reported by Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar.
Assad also warned Israel to stay away from the missiles, which would make it more difficult for Israel to strike targets inside Syria. Israel Defense Forces have launched airstrikes against convoys of weapons headed for southern Lebanon, the base of arch enemy Hezbollah that is on Israel's northern border.
You might remember that the Israelis had carefully crafted an agreement with Russia's Putin not to ship the S-300s to Syria in exchange for Israel agreeing to not to target Assad's forces. That deal blew up when the EU unexpectedly announced they were removing sanctions on sending arms to the al-Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood rebels May 28th. Hours later, Putin abruptly announced the shipment.
Al-Manar and al-Akbar are Hezbollah mouth pieces, so I personally doubt that the S-300s are in Assad's hands yet, but they're almost certainly en route.
The Israelis regard this as a game changer and I guarantee that they will act accordingly. Among other things, the S-300s have the range to take out commercial airliners landing in Israel.
The peace conference, scheduled for June 15th is another point of contention. Assad agreed to attend provided the goal was a political solution that would allow him to remain in power.The Rebels refused to even attend unless Assad's ouster was guaranteed as a pre-condition.
The Russians had actually put significant work in trying to get the conference to work, and felt that President Obama was working with them to try and craft a diplomatic solution. Putin was outraged at what he saw as Obama's duplicity when he found out about the US deployment of 1,800 US Marines off the USS Kearsage two weeks ago to the Syria-Jordan border and the
president asking the Joint Chiefs of Staff to plan out a no fly zone patrolled by US aircraft over Syria while he was supposedly working with Putin on a peaceful solution.
The war is not going at all well for the Islamist rebels, but President Obama is apparently determined to put yet another Islamist regime in power. In fact, that's pretty much what Benghazi was all about.
The IDF will probably take out the S-300s when they arrive, and I expect to see America and the EU shipping weapons to the Islamist and al-Qaeda rebels and even getting directly involved at some point.