Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov

Syria's air defense is key to Assad's courage

Recently, the amount of disinformation around Syria has significantly increased. The goal is to escalate tension and pressure of the atmosphere of fear in the government of Bashar al-Assad who must be forced to make some impulsive step. The position of the Russian leadership is criticized, but this is precisely what does not allow the West to topple Assad. Russia is also fulfilling its obligations under the military contracts.

This week, "Syrian Monitoring Centre for Human Rights" spread rumors about the use of chemical weapons in the city of Homs. Then there was misinformation that the Russian Defense Ministry sending Special Forces into Syria on Navy ships. Once again, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had to refute the rumor that Bashar Assad was asking for asylum in Russia. Finally, the information on the establishment of a crisis center in the Defense Ministry was presented as another Kremlin's step to surrender the regime of Bashar al-Assad and preparation of his escape from Syria.

But, as it turns out, no one is going to run. In addition, as Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said during his official visit to France, Russia maintained "good working relationship" with the legitimate government of Assad. He added that these relationships had nothing to do with "provision of legal services" to Bashar al-Assad as he did not need them because he said that he would die on his soil. These relationships were strictly about providing military assistance. Russian ships are keeping watch in the Eastern Mediterranean, with inevitable visits to Tartus. On Monday, the Ministry of Defense informed that large amphibious ships (BDK) of the Black Sea Fleet "Nicholas Filchenkov" and "Azov" set their course to the Bosphorus. They will replace the ships "Novocherkassk" and "Saratov" whose mission in the region is over. Despite the fact that the Foreign Ministry associates presence of the ships with a possible evacuation of Russians from the area, it is a strong deterrent to any foreign aggressor.

In addition, Russia is fulfilling its obligations under the military contracts without revealing them. According to Jeremy Binnie, editor of Jane's Terrorism and Security Monitor, Russia recently supplied to Syria missile launch system "Buk-M2" and "Pantsir-C1", equipped with radar systems. The author added that the C-300 also may have been delivered but are not yet operational. Thus, he was talking about the supply of modern air defense systems that are the main deterrent in Syria. The West won the wars in Yugoslavia and Libya by bombing from the air.

The Syrian air defense has a little over 900 launchers of anti-aircraft missiles, of which the vast majority are C-75 and C-125 units. The Syrian sky is protected by 48-200M launchers with a range of up to 200 kilometers. During deployment they are protected by 60 launchers SAM "Wasp" grouped into 14 batteries. The defense also has 60 plants SAM "Wasp" and about 4 thousand pieces of artillery. The country has a North and South defense zones controlled from three command centers fully equipped with computers, and the armed forces have 60 thousand people, Military News reported. This arsenal is twice as powerful as Gaddafi's.

Alexander Leonov, Major General and Chief of Defense Forces, said this week to the radio station Echo of Moscow that "air defense in Syria is a major force." "It is indicative that no one used an aviation group against it to this day," he added. If Syria does not repeat the sad story of Libya, where the rebels destroyed four air defense divisions and Gaddafi was afraid to use the fifth one, the West would not dare to start a full-scale war. The government will have enough courage to use its defense.

The only disadvantage of a powerful air defense of Assad's complex, according to military analysts, is poorly trained personnel working with sophisticated technology. Russia is providing help in this area as well. The Guardian on December 23 published an article entitled "Russian military presence in Syria poses challenge to US-led intervention."

According to confidential sources of the newspaper, Russian military advisers arrived in Syria, and will advise the Syrian troops on installation and implementation of new missiles "ground-to-air."

A senior fellow of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Guy Ben-Ari, confirmed this information. The Guardian quoted him saying that Russia was not just selling equipment but also helped to create crews and train them.

The newspaper wrote that the depth and complexity of the Syrian air defense meant that any western campaign in support of a no-fly zone or in direct air strikes would be costly, time-consuming and risky. Possible Russian military losses in such a campaign could lead to unpredictable geopolitical consequences. It turns out that the West is afraid of Russia's possible involvement in the war. This is also a strong deterrent, and the West knows that Putin could respond adequately.

The author of the article further pondered whether the potential aggressor had sufficient forces and means to bring the war to victory. It turns out that the "Syrian campaign" would require stocks of precision weapons (missiles) that have been used in military operations in Libya. It would also require airplanes "Stealth" that track signals, satellite images and aerial reconnaissance. The U.S. is the only country that has all of the above, so this time, Washington cannot "play the role of an observer," as it was in Libya. Additionally, the West simply cannot afford a new full-scale war.

All this, Lavrov said, "does not incite the West's appetite" for an attack on Syria. In addition, Obama replaced the "hawks" with the people prone to compromise. State Department will be headed by a 69-year-old Vietnam War veteran John Kerry, and the CIA Director David Petraeus, one the most powerful advocates of intervention in Syria, has left the organization. Reliable Syrian air defense in conjunction with military support from Moscow and the fragmented nature of the opposition and the global economic crisis explain why a Western intervention predicted by nearly all world's analysts a year ago has not taken place. It seems that it will not take place, despite the provocation of some media, sponsored by the American military industrial complex.

Lyuba Lulko


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