In June 2007, Russian newspapers claimed that Russia had begun delivering 5 MiG-31E Foxhound aircraft to Syria, under a deal that was reportedly negotiated in autumn 2006. The Russian newspaper Kommersant added that part of the deal was being financed by Iran as a back-door purchase. A series of other deals have been announced since, for items that include advanced anti-ship missiles and air defense systems.
To call these deals opaque would be an understatement, and the lack of transparency exists in several layers. Russia has been Syria’s main arms supplier for decades, and both regimes are very secretive about their activities. Russia’s growing relationship with Israel, especially in the oil and gas fields, adds another layer of opacity to decisions, and appears to have delayed or canceled some sales. The third layer was created by Syria’s civil war, which has been raging since April 2011. This article covers public reports of new arms sales to Syria, though we also welcome any conclusive public IMINT or inside information readers wish to refer our way.