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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has urged Russia not to sell an advanced air defense system to Syria, saying such a move would be "destabilizing" for the security of Israel, a key U.S. ally.
Kerry made the comment in Rome Thursday, after the Wall Street Journal reported that Israel has alerted the United States to an impending Russian sale of S-300 missile batteries to Syria, a longtime ally of Moscow.
The top U.S. diplomat said Washington "would prefer" that Moscow does not supply such assistance to Damascus.
Israel officials told Western news agencies that they also have asked Russia to cancel the transfer of the missiles, which would boost Syria's ability to defend against any aerial strikes by Israel or its Western allies.
The Wall Street Journal says Israel believes Syria has begun paying Russia for the S-300 batteries and could receive the first delivery within three months.
Russia had no immediate comment on the report.
Syria has blamed Israel for a series of air strikes that hit the Damascus region last week. Israel has neither confirmed nor denied responsibility.
But Israeli officials have said any military action is aimed at preventing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from transferring Iranian-made weapons to Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, which has called for Israel's destruction.