Damascus by Elijah J. Magnier – @ejmalrai
High ranking officer working alongside the Syrian Army believe “it is difficult for the Israeli Air Force to stay out of the sky of the Levant”. According to the source, “last February, Russian radar showed two Israeli jets shot down the day the Syrian air defence fired in direction of a squadron of Israeli Air Force violating Syrian airspace. One Jet was down in a residential area and another one in the sea. But Tel Aviv recognised the loss of only one F-16: it is generally in denial when information is damaging to its image or protected by its national security parameters”.
The officer is convinced that “Israel won’t accept the Rules of Engagement (ROE) imposed by Damascus (when its air defence system fired at and shot down at least one Israeli confirmed F-16 last February). Therefore another confrontation can be expected soon”.
It is clear that Israel can’t allow the Iran-Hezbollah-Assad coalition to win and impose its ROE over Israel. Iran continue sending the most advanced technology and updated weapons to Hezbollah to meet the possible challenge of a future war with Israel. Despite the fact that Hezbollah warehouses may be full and distributed throughout the Lebanese-Syrian geography in such a way as to diversify the source of fire against Israel, it is Iran’s advanced missile production and capability which is most essential for the protection and survival of its Lebanese partner, and the defeat of Israel in any future confrontation.
Last February, according to the source, Damascus used a new tactic in dealing with the Israeli Air Force violation: over 25 missiles were fired simultaneously to make sure it was impossible for the jets to avoid them. The aim was to inflict a blow to the Israeli Air Force and this is what happened.
Russia and Syria have a common military operational room to monitor the ongoing battles in Syria and all movements in the sky, covering Turkey, Iraq, the area under the US occupation in north-east Syria and Israel. Any jet taking off from Israeli military airports is closely monitored in real-time, and that includes the F35 Stealth Fighters, the most advanced and most expensive jets it owns ($125/112 million each, built by Lockheed Martin).
The US Marine Corps declared F-35B’s initial Operational Capability (IOC) in July 2015. The Israel Air Force initially received a limited number in 2016, but is expected to received a total of 50 by 2024.
Although it is built to escape radar pinpointing, it seems Russia is capable of building enough data to trace the F-35 trajectory if flying over Syria. Russian officers in Syrian in fact exclude the use by Israel of the F-35: ”When defence systems are ready to fire against any Israeli violation over Syria, it is too risky for Israel to lose an F-35s, the pride of the US Air Force”.
Israel’s chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot said “the Israeli Air Force is no longer flying over Syria”. But his statement was implicitly contradicted by himself in the same interview when he said “Israel will not tolerate developing abilities that threaten the existence of the state of Israel…This is the future message to our enemies”.
Eisenkot believes that “Hezbollah does not yet have precise missiles capable of hitting specific targets in Israel as previously reported”.
The high ranking officer replied: “This information shows the level of intelligence Israel possesses or is ready to release to obtain a return or feedback or more confirmation or contradiction, for its intelligence to evaluate. According to our assessment, Hezbollah already had limited number of precise missiles in 2006 in Lebanon but their non-use was only due to the lack of evaluation of Israel’s disproportionate reaction, for example, to the abduction of the Israeli soldiers (to exchange their corps with prisoners in Israel’s jail later).
Also, the group didn’t lack precise missiles but had not prepared itself logistically to have many of these at hand. Today the situation is totally different. Iran seems to be providing Hezbollah with advanced capability to avoid Iron Dome, David’s Sling or Patriot missile interceptor systems. Let Israel find out in the hard way what Hezbollah has if it provokes a third war”.
Israel wants to return to the old ROE and hit any Hezbollah truck heading towards Lebanon or in warehouses dedicated to Hezbollah but stored in Syria before transport. As far as Israel hitting Syrian Army targets is concerned, this policy is no longer useful because no jihadist or rebel groups can now make any significant difference in Syria. Most cities (part from Idlib in the north and the US occupation of the north-east) are falling one after the other and “useful Syria” is mostly under the control of the Syrian government.
The southern Daraa and the Quneitra provinces are the last significant position held by the “Islamic State” promoter (Jaish Khaled Bin al-Waleed), al-Qaeda and few hundred Free Syrian Army fighters. It is no longer worth it for Israel to lose face while trying to support these remaining jihadists – as it has done throughout the Syrian war – and have its jets downed for no significant gain, no strategic outcome.
« If Israel fires long range missiles against the Syrian Army », the ally officer said « I believe the leadership in Damascus is thinking of counter firing missiles and rockets above the Israeli settlements, to create a ROE neutralising any Israeli violation of the Syrian territory. Syria in 2018 is no longer the same Syria of 2011. Now Damascus is ready to face significant challenges ».
Proof read by: Maurice Brasher
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