Russia deployment of S-300 in Syria risks military escalation: France

FILE PHOTO: People watch S-300 air defense missile systems launching missiles during the Keys to the Sky competition at the International Army Games 2017 at the Ashuluk shooting range outside Astrakhan, Russia, August 5, 2017. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) - Russia’s deployment of the S-300 anti-aircraft defense system in Syria risks fuelling military escalation and hindering prospects for a political solution to the seven-year conflict, France’s foreign ministry said on Friday.

Moscow said on Tuesday it had delivered the surface-to-air missile system after the downing of a Russian spy plane by Syrian forces in September. Russia accused Israel of being indirectly responsible for that act because the Syrian forces had been firing at attacking Israel jets.

“France notes with concern the delivery by Russia of sophisticated anti-aircraft capabilities for the benefit of the Syrian regime,” Foreign ministry spokeswoman Agnes von Der Muhll told reporters in an online briefing.

“Amid regional tensions, the delivery of such equipment by Russia contributes to maintaining the risk of military escalation and removing the prospect of a political settlement of the Syrian crisis,” she said.

Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Luke Baker