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Russia Obtains Israel’s New Interceptor Missile in Syria, Reports Say

United States Missile Defense Agency

The Russian military has allegedly obtained Israel’s new interceptor missile that Syria captured on its soil last year, Israeli news outlets reported Wednesday.

Israel launched two of its intermediate ballistic missile interceptors called David’s Sling into Syria on July 23, 2018, one of which landed intact, the Middle East intelligence website DEBKAfile wrote at the time. The website expressed concerns that Russian and Syrian intelligence engineers may have “by now studied actively” the missile and may have shared its secrets with Israel’s adversary Iran.

Syrian regime forces captured the intact David’s Sling and handed it to the Russian military, which allegedly brought it to Moscow for “reverse engineering,” The Jerusalem Post reported, citing Russian and Chinese media reports. 

Israel and the United States, which helped it develop the mid-range interceptor, have asked Russia to return the undetonated missile, The Times of Israel reported.

Neither the Israel Defense Forces nor Russia’s Defense Ministry has commented on the report.

Designed to shoot down rockets that are launched at a distance of 100-200 kilometers, David’s Sling makes up the middle tier of Israel’s multi-layered air defense shield. The shield includes the short-range Iron Dome and long-range Arrow missiles. 

The July 2018 launch was the interceptors’ first launch since Israel declared it fully operational in 2017. The other David’s Sling launched that day self-detonated after its target, a Syrian rocket, missed its mark.

Israel has in recent years carried out hundreds of strikes in Syria that it says have targeted Iran, as well as Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which it calls the biggest threat to its borders. 

Reuters contributed reporting to this article.

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