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Russia Confirms Deployment Of S-300 Air Defense Missiles To Syria

A Russian surface-to-air S-300 missile system during a military drill by Russian forces last year. (file photo)

Russia's Defense Ministry has confirmed that it has deployed an S-300 antiaircraft missile system to its Mediterranean naval base at Tartus, Syria.

In a statement issued on October 4, the Russian ministry said the missile battery was "intended to ensure the safety of the naval base" and the Russian Navy's task force off the Syrian coast.

The long range surface-to-air missile system was designed to strike aircraft and cruise missiles, as well as to intercept ballistic missiles, as part of the air defense of military bases and large industrial facilities.

Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said the S-300 system would bolster a similar air defense missile system that is mounted on The Moskva, a guided missile cruiser in the area.

In Washington, spokesmen for both the White House and the U.S. Defense Department subtly criticized the deployment -- noting that Russia's stated military goals in Syria are to target terrorist groups, yet none of the terror groups operating there have any air capabilities.

“It should be clear to the Russians how seriously we take the safety of our air crews, and all the coalition’s air crews,” Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook told reporters on October 4.

In 2015, Russia deployed S-400 air defense missiles and the short-range Pantsir system to Syria.

Based on reporting by TASS, Interfax, and Reuters