Russia is demanding Israel give it more advanced notice before carrying out airstrikes on targets in Syria, Israeli television reported Wednesday, as newly published satellite photographs purported to show the deployment of four advanced Russian anti-aircraft batteries near a suspected Syrian chemical weapons site.
Russia last month announced it would supply Syria with the S-300 air defense systems, after one of its military planes was downed by a Syrian missile during an Israeli strike in the country.
Moscow has blamed Israel for the incident, in which 15 Russian servicemen were killed, a charge denied by Israel.
According to Hadashot TV news, Russia is seeking to set new terms for Israeli operations in Syria and overhaul the existing Israeli-Russian military coordination system.
Russia is insisting it receives further advance warning of Israeli strikes, the network said, though the report did not say how much. Israel usually informs Russia minutes before an airstrike.
Such a demand would likely limit Israel’s freedom of maneuver in Syria, with the report noting it could endanger Israeli aircraft and allow Iranian operatives more time to hide materiel being targeted.
A senior diplomatic source quoted in the report said the demand was unacceptable operationally and that Israel must not acquiesce to it.
The report came as ImageSat International published photos it said show four S-300 batteries deployed at a newly constructed site near the northwestern Syrian city of Masyaf, where Israel has reportedly carried out raids on targets allegedly tied to Syria’s chemical weapons program.
The satellite imaging firm said the S-300s did not appear to be operational and it was unclear whether the systems were being manned by Russia or Syria.
It also noted the site was 1.3 kilometers from a Russian S-400 anti-aircraft battery, which is considered to be one of the most advanced air defense systems in the world, and that construction there was consistent with the placement of missile launchers.
The S-400 batteries are thought to only be manned by Russians to protect Moscow’s interests in the country.
Israeli leaders have vowed to continue carrying out strikes in Syria amid tensions with Russia over the downing of the Russian military reconnaissance plane, though no airstrikes have been attributed to Israel since the September 17 incident.
The Israeli Air Force has carried out hundreds of strikes in Syria in recent years against targets linked to Iran and its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah, who Israel says are working to establish a military presence there that could threaten the Jewish state.
Like Russia, both Iran and Hezbollah are fighting on behalf of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime in the Syrian civil war.
Officials have insisted Israel is still acting against Iran and Hezbollah in Syria.