Erdogan: Turkey’s S-400 missile systems purchase from Russia ‘done deal’

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, earlier hosted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, and Iranian leader Hassan Rouhani for a trilateral meeting on Syria. (Turkish Presidential Press Office/AFP)
Updated 16 February 2019
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Erdogan: Turkey’s S-400 missile systems purchase from Russia ‘done deal’

ANKARA: Turkey will not turn back from its deal to buy S-400 missile systems from Russia, President Tayyip Erdogan was quoted as saying on Saturday, a day after an informal deadline Washington set for Ankara to respond to a rival offer passed.
NATO member Turkey has repeatedly said it is committed to buying the Russian missile defense system, despite warnings from the US-led alliance that the S-400s cannot be integrated into the NATO air defense system.
US officials had set an informal deadline of February 15 for Ankara to respond to the rival US offer and have said that if Turkey proceeds with the S-400 purchase, Washington will withdraw its offer to sell a $3.5 billion Raytheon Co. Patriot missile package.
They have also said it would jeopardize Turkey’s purchase of Lockheed Martin Corp. F-35 fighter jets and possibly result in the United States imposing sanctions.
However, speaking to reporters on the flight back from the Russian resort of Sochi, where a three-way summit on Syria between Turkey, Russia and Iran was held, Erdogan said Ankara would press on with the S-400 purchases.
“We made the S-400 deal with Russia, so it out of the question for us to turn back. That’s done,” Erdogan said, according to broadcaster NTV.
He said Turkey was open to purchasing Patriot systems from the United States as long as the deal served Turkey’s interests, but added there were issues on delivery and production that were still being discussed with Washington.
“The US administration views the early delivery issue positively, but they won’t say anything about joint production or a credit. We continue our work based on the promise of the S-400 deliveries in July.”
The formal US offer for Turkey’s purchase of Patriot systems expires at the end of March, US officials have told Reuters, after which a new offer would have to be submitted.
The US asked Turkey to give at least an informal answer on whether it would go ahead with its S-400 purchase by February 15, one US official said.
It was not immediately clear whether Turkey had responded to the US offer.


Lebanese hunter shot at Syrian checkpoint

Updated 18 sec ago
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Lebanese hunter shot at Syrian checkpoint

  • A Lebanese mediator from Arsal had contacted Syrian security forces and arranged for the body to be recovered
BEIRUT: A retired Lebanese soldier on a bird-hunting trip was shot dead at a Syrian military checkpoint in Arsal on the Syrian-Lebanese border, sparking anger and demands for an investigation into the killing.
Two other men were detained by Syrian security forces in the incident, the first of its kind since the July 2017 battles around the town between the Lebanese army and terror groups in the area.
Wissam Youssef Karnabi, Nayef Mahmoud Raed and Hussein Ali Al-Hujairi were partridge hunting with small nets in a security zone surrounding Arsal when the shooting took place.
Al-Hujairi is believed to have been shot by Syrian troops following a dispute at the checkpoint.
Future Movement MP Bakr Al-Hujairi, a relative of the dead man, said: “The three hunters were unarmed; all they carried were nets.” He told Arab News that his relative’s body had been recovered from Damascus on Saturday night, but the fate of the other two men remains unknown.
Bassel Al-Hujairi, the mayor of Arsal, said that the three hunters had been told by Syrian troops to approach the checkpoint, “but there seems to have been a dispute between the third hunter and the Syrian soldiers, so they shot him and arrested the other two.”  
“The killing in this manner is not acceptable. There is no reason for it as the hunters were unarmed,” he said. A Lebanese mediator from Arsal had contacted Syrian security forces and arranged for the body to be recovered.
“The Syrian authorities transferred the body to a hospital in the area before it was delivered to the Lebanese side on Saturday through the Masnaa border crossing,” Al-Hujairi said.
Lebanese General Security had been told about the shooting and is following up the matter, the mayor said. He said the two men detained by the Syrian security forces are in their forties. The mayor said that the shooting victim’s funeral procession in Arsal had “an atmosphere of tension and anxiety.”