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Pentagon concerned over Russia's plans to sell Yakhont missiles to Syria

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Pentagon - Sputnik International
The U.S. Department of Defense is highly concerned over Russia's intention to supply Yakhont missiles to Syria.

The U.S. Department of Defense is highly concerned over Russia's intention to supply Yakhont missiles to Syria, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell has said.

Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said last week that Russia would honor a 2007 contract on the delivery of P-800 Yakhont supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles to Syria, despite U.S. and Israel security concerns.

Serdyukov said he had discussed the issue with U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

On Monday, Gates told his Israeli colleague Ehud Barak during a private meeting that the deal may "further destabilize" the region, Morrell told reporters in Washington.

The P-800 Yakhont missiles (known as P-800 Oniks in Russia) have a range of 300 kilometers, carry a 200-kilogram warhead and feature a unique ability to cruise several meters above the surface, making it difficult to detect and intercept them.

Israeli authorities have expressed a strong concern over the increase of Syrian defensive potential, as well as over a threat of transferring weapons to Lebanese or Palestinian radicals.

Tel Aviv says that during the Second Lebanon War in 2006, fighters of Lebanese radical Islamic movement Hezbollah used Soviet-made and Russian-made arms purchased by Syria against Israel.

Israeli media quoted high-ranking Israeli sources on Sunday as saying that Tel Aviv could counter Moscow's plans to sell missiles to Syria by supplying weapons to regions of Russia's strategic interest.

The Yediot Ahronot newspaper described the plans as a "slap" in the face of Defense Minister Barak, who had visited Moscow two weeks ago and, according to local media reports, discussed the missile issue with the Russian authorities.

WASHINGTON, September 21 (RIA Novosti)

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