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MOSCOW, September 24, 2018 (News Wires) — Russia announced on Monday that it will supply the Syrian government with more modern, S-300 missile defence systems following last week's downing of a Russian plane by Syria, a friendly fire incident that sent regional tensions over the war-torn country soaring.

The Russian military aircraft was downed by Syrian government missile defence systems, killing all 15 people on board. Russia laid the blame squarely on Israel, saying Israeli fighter jets had pushed the Russian plane into the line of Syria's fire.

Shortly before the downing, Israeli strikes had hit targets inside Syria, reportedly preventing an arms shipment going to the Iranian-backed militant Hizbollah group.

Russia launched its campaign in Syria to support President Bashar Assad in 2015, and though the involvement turned the tide of war in favour of Syrian government forces, Moscow has since tried to play a careful balancing act, maintaining good ties both with Iran and Israel.

For its part, Israel is wary of Iran's growing influence in Syria, which is bringing its archenemy closer to its borders. Last week's downing has put Russia's relationship with Israel to a test.

President Vladimir Putin initially struck a reconciliatory note, blaming the downing on a "chain of tragic, fatal circumstances." But the Russian military came out on Sunday, renewing the accusations against Israel.

Russian officials said Syria's outdated S-200 systems weren't sophisticated enough to identify the Russian plane as a friendly one.

Monday's statement from Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said Russia will send the S-300 missile defence systems to Syria within the next two weeks. Earlier in the war, Russia suspended a supply of S-300s, which Israel feared Syria could use against it.

Shoigu said Russia is now going to go ahead with the shipment because "the situation has changed, and it's not our fault." He also said that Russia would start to electronically jam aircraft flying in to attack targets in Syria.

"We are convinced that these measures will calm down some hotheads and keep them from careless actions which pose a threat to our troops," Shoigu said.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov told Russian news agencies that supplying S-300 to Syria is Russia's "own right" and expressed confidence that this would not hurt ties with Israel.

The Kremlin said Russia's decision was not targeted against anyone and only serves to protect Russian troops in Syria. Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that recent findings by the Russian military showed an Israeli jet "deliberately" pushed the Russian Il-20 into the line of fire, enabling its downing.

Shortly after Moscow's announcement, the Syrian president's office said Assad received a call from Vladimir Putin and that the two discussed the latest developments, including the Idlib deal and the delivery of S-300s.

According to the statement, Putin reiterated that Russia holds Israel responsible for the downing of the Russian plane. The Russian president also informed Assad of the S-300 delivery, it said.

Assad expressed his condolences for the deaths of the Russian airmen, saying they were "carrying out noble mission, fighting terrorism in Syria."

The Kremlin confirmed the call, saying Assad and Putin discussed working towards "achieving a lasting normalisation in Syria and restoration of its sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity."

MOSCOW, Sept 23, 2018 (MENA) - The Israeli Air Force misled Russia by providing wrong information about the area of the planned air strikes in 

Syria on September 17, thus preventing the Russian Il-20 from moving to a safe zone, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov was quoted by Sputnik as saying on Sunday.

Speaking at a press briefing on Sunday, Konashenkov provided more details on the downing of the Russian Il-20 military aircraft near Syria on September 17.

"Today, we share detailed information about the crash of the Ilyushin IL- 20 airplane of the Russian Aerospace Forces near the Syrian coast on September 17. We will present a minute-by-minute account of this tragic incident that was made based on the objective radar readings including those from the Plotto air information display system," he said.

According to Konashenkov, the Israeli Air Force provided Russia with misleading information on the location of its airstrikes on targets in Syria, which prevented the commander of the Il-20 plane from relocating to a safe zone and led to its destruction.

"During the negotiations via the deconfliction channel, the representative of the Israeli Air Force Command reported that the targets assigned to the Israeli aircraft are located in Northern Syria … As you can see on the map, the Israeli jets delivered strikes in Latakia which is a western province of the country — and not in the north of the Syrian Arab Republic. The city of Latakia is located on the western coast. The misleading information provided by the Israeli officer about the area of strikes did not allow the Russian Il-20 airplane to move timely to a safe area," Konashenkov said.

CAIRO, Sept 23, 2018 (MENA) - Egypt's exports to the Russian market have increased tangibly during the first half of this year reaching $402.4 million, compared with dlrs 360.6 million during the same period in 2017.

The industrial sector witnessed an increase in exports of household appliances that reached 224%, registering $14.66 million, compared with $4.53 million during the same period last year, according to a report on Egypt's exports to the Russian market during the first half of this year.

Exports of detergents and soap reached $3.7 million, against $1.5 million during the same period last year.

Egypt's exports of carpets amounted to $2 million during the first half of this year, compared with around $1.97 million during the same period last year.

Home textiles exports increased to reach $1.1 million, compared with $880,000 during the same period last year.

Exports of foodstuffs increased by 103% reaching $19.93 million, compared with around $9.7 million during the same period last year, according to the report.

MOSCOW, Sept 21, 2018 (News Wires) - Moscow and Beijing lashed out Friday at Washington's new anti-Russian sanctions that also target China for the first time, warning the United States could face consequences.

President Vladimir Putin's spokesman accused Washington of playing unfairly and using new measures to squeeze Moscow out of the global arms market, after the United States slapped sanctions on China for buying Russian warplanes and missiles and threatened to target its other clients.

"This is unfair competition, dishonest competition, an attempt to use non-market methods that run counter to norms and principles of international trade to squeeze the main competitor of US makers out of the markets," said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

Peskov said that "Washington's continued sanctions hysterics" dealt a new blow to US-Russia ties but could not immediately say if Moscow would retaliate, or how.

On Thursday, Washington placed financial sanctions on the Equipment Development Department of the Chinese Defence Ministry, and its top administrator, for its recent purchase of Russian Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets and S-400 surface-to-air missile systems.

It was the first time a third country has been punished under the CAATSA sanctions legislation for dealing with Russia, signalling Donald Trump's readiness to risk relations with other countries over Moscow.

Beijing warning 

Beijing -- which is locked in a trade war with the United States -- urged Washington to withdraw sanctions or "bear the consequences".

"The US actions have seriously violated the basic principles of international relations and seriously damaged the relations between the two countries and the two militaries," said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang.

"We strongly urge the US to immediately correct their mistake and withdraw their so-called sanctions, otherwise the US will have to bear the consequences."

United in their resentment of America's global influence, China and Russia have sought in recent years to tighten up their ties and this month conducted week-long joint military drills, Moscow's largest ever war games.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned that Russia would act to end its dependency on the US dollar.

"We will do everything to stop being dependent on the countries who behave towards their partners in this way," Lavrov said on a visit to Sarajevo.

His deputy, Sergei Ryabkov, earlier said Washington was rocking global stability and said sarcastically that placing sanctions on Russia has become Washington's favourite "pastime".

"It would be good for them to remember there is such a concept as global stability which they are thoughtlessly undermining by whipping up tensions in Russian-American ties," said Ryabkov.

"Playing with fire is silly, it can become dangerous," he said in a statement, noting the latest round of anti-Russian measures was the 60th since 2011.

Arms exports are an important source of revenue for the country and last year Russia sold more than $14 billion worth of arms overseas.

US officials said that the US could consider similar action against other countries taking delivery of Russian fighter jets and missiles.

Turkey, which is embroiled in a dispute with Washington over the detention of a US pastor, is in talks to buy S-400 missile systems from Russia.

HONG KONG, Sept 21, 2018 (News Wires) - Olympic legend Michael Phelps called for new leadership in the fight against drugs in sport Friday after the World Anti-Doping Agency controversially reinstated Russia’s tainted anti-drugs body.

The American swimming great said it was “sad” that Wada had lifted its three-year ban on Russia’s Rusada, which paves the way for Russian athletes to return to competition.

“When is an organisation going to fully take responsibility and take charge to change? Because that’s not what sports is,” Phelps told journalists at the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Philanthropy for Better Cities Forum.

“Sports aren’t about putting performance-enhancing drugs in your body and standing up and performing.”

Wada suspended Rusada in November 2015 following revelations of a vast scheme to avoid drug testers, culminating at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

But the suspension was lifted after Wada’s executive committee voted to declare Russia compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code, subject to conditions such as access to laboratory data and samples.

“It’s sad to see this,” said Phelps, who won a record 23 Olympic gold medals in 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016.

MOSCOW, September 20, 2018 (News Wires) - The Kremlin said on Thursday it had received a telegram from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in which he expressed his condolences over a Russian military plane being downed near Syria earlier this week, the Interfax news agency reported.

Russia’s Defence Ministry said the Il-20 reconnaissance aircraft, with 15 Russians on board, had been downed by Syrian government anti-aircraft guns in a “friendly fire” incident on Monday, but blamed Israel for the incident.

Israel has blamed Syria for the shoot down.

Interfax cited President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying on Thursday that the Kremlin had received a telegram from Assad about the incident.

Syria’s SANA news agency reported on Wednesday that Assad had sent a telegram to Moscow saying he was sorry about the death of Russian military service people, but blamed Israel for the downing.

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