Bashar al-Assad must have been either mistaken or bluffing when he said Syria had already received its first shipment of S-300 air defense missiles from Russia, if reports appearing in Russian media today are true. Syria won't actually get the missiles until spring of next year, per a contract signed in 2010, and it will take another six months to train Syrian forces to use them, Russian defense sources tell newspapers there, according to the Guardian. (Reuters picks up an Interfax report in which a Russian arms industry source backs up the "not yet" claim, though with a slightly more accelerated timeline: "Regarding the deliveries of the S-300, they can begin no earlier than the autumn.")
Not that Russia is squeamish about selling arms to the regime; it's currently finalizing a new deal to sell it MiG warplanes. Analysts say the jets and the missiles aren't for use against the rebels—that war "is waged using infantry, Kalashnikov automatic rifles, tanks, and armored vehicles" says one—but to deter intervention from foreign powers like the US. The analyst added that he believes the reports that Syria doesn't have the missiles yet, as such a delivery could have been spotted via satellite. "You can't hide S-300s in your pocket."