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Sunday, September 01, 2013

Syrian media publishes target list for Israel, Cyprus and... Turkey

Syrian media has published a list of targets that Syria plans to hit in the event that the United States attacks Syria. The targets are in Israel, Cyprus and Turkey. There's just one small problem: Syria's air force is reported to be on its last legs, and a US attack could be the end of it. This is from the first link.
Aerial photos of the purported targets were released by state media, including strategic military positions in Israel, Turkey and Cyprus, such as airports and chemical weapons factories.
Syrian officials have repeatedly threatened to target Israel in the event of a western strike.
Specific targets labeled as "legitimate" for Syrian missile strikes included Israel's Dimona nuclear plant, petrochemical production plants in Haifa, Hazor military airbase, the Palmachim, Zala'im and Tzrifin  military bases, Kalandia airport, and military and intelligence facilities in Turkey and Cyprus.
Kalandia Airport (also known as Atarot) hasn't functioned since 2000, when 'Palestinian' rioters destroyed it.

But there may not be much left of the Syrian air force with which to hit these targets.
While there has been widespread scepticism from military sources over the effect of the suggested air strikes, former Syrian military officers and some analysts believe even limited strikes might cause significant damage.
The view was shared by a report last week from the Rand Corporation thinktank, Options for Airpower in Syria. It argued that neutralising Syria's air defences and severely damaging its air force were likely to be much easier than some pessimists suggested.
Although it argued that "negating Syrian air power would have only a marginal direct effect on civilian casualties, which have mostly been caused by ground forces", it said this "could significantly assist Syrian opposition forces by denying air support and especially air mobility and resupply to the Syrian army".
The report was far more sceptical about the ability of US cruise missile strikes to knock out Bashar al-Assad's chemical capability. "The practical options for doing so have serious limitations, and attempting it could actually make things worse. Locating all Syrian chemical weapon facilities and defining them well enough to design effective conventional air strikes against them would require very precise and detailed intelligence."
While the Syrian air force has been described as being on "its last legs", with crews cannibalising aircraft to keep planes in the air, other factors are likely to be problematic for the regime.
"They have been moving people out of security compounds," the defector said, repeating the claim made by others that prisoners and civilians had been moved into the vacated bases.
"But there are other locations that they can't evacuate. They rely on holding the big bases like Mezze. They can't abandon them.
"They will have to keep their forces manning the main supply routes and that makes them vulnerable to attack.
"I served at Mezze. The bunkers for personnel are not very good. We used to nickname them the graves and talk about how – in a crisis – we'd rather take our chances in the open than get buried in them."
He said he did not believe that the shelters available for hiding aircraft were well enough hardened to sustain a hit from a cruise missile. "There are no underground bunkers. The hangars we have in the open are reinforced but no match for modern weapons."
The detailed depiction of Syrian military resilience painted a picture of largely antiquated equipment, difficulties in moving supplies and a vulnerable communications network.
"In addition the aircraft that the regime does have available are old. Many of the newest operating are from the 1990s. There are places where there should be six jets operating but they can only fly two. Our sources tell us they have only 60 pilots available and 40 helicopter crews. But because the opposition doesn't have aircraft that is still a big advantage. Any damage to these aircraft would cause severe damage to the regime's capability.
It sounds like Obama's going to get his chance to be a hero after all. But it's far more likely that he'll be out on the golf course when it happens. 

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