Monday, December 08, 2014

Israel's Syria Strike Wipes Out Russian Weapons Designed To Prevent US 'No Fly' Zone

Two Israeli F-15I 'Ra'am' fighter jets during maneuvers (illustrative photo: CC BY-TSgt Kevin J. Gruenwald/USA/Wikimedia)

The Israeli Air Force conducted a decisive raid over the weekend on Syrian arms stocks warehoused near Damascus and at an airfield in the Dimas area, northwest of the Syrian capital and near the Lebanese border.

The arms targeted were newly-arrived Russian anti-air weaponry, radar and hardware, including advanced, Russian-made S-300 missiles.

Israel's main strategic interest was the planned delivery of these item to Hezbollah in Lebanon, but it also affected an interesting back and forth between Russia and the Obama Administration.

Israel had a tacit agreement with Russia's Vladimir Putin that he would avoid introducing this kind of weaponry into the region, and Israel would avoid strikes on Assad's forces. That fell apart just as the last one did because of the actions of the Obama Administration.

The Obama Administration has decided to establish a 'no fly' zone in Syria to aid the Islamist rebels in their war against Bashir Assad.

Contrary to what's in the linked article, the deal has already been drafted with Turkey according to my sources. The draft agreement allows American warplanes to take off from the U.S. leased Turkish airbase of Incirlik for operations against Syrian planes, assault helicopters or drones entering the no-fly zone. Formerly, only non-combat recon aircraft like unarmed drones were allowed to use Incirlik to fly over Syria. The Turks originally wanted the no-fly zone extended to Aleppo, where the Syrian Army is on the verge of defeating the rebels. Instead, the U.S. insisted on a much narrower area, between one half and three quarters of a mile.That makes little strategic sense unless the primary object is to provide a safe haven for the Islamist rebels close to the Turkish border to train,rearm and regroup.

The Russians have repeatedly told the Obama Administration that any attempt to establish a no-fly zone would be regarded as a direct intervention against their ally Assad and would lead to use of the Russian military to defend the Assad regime in response.When Putin found out about the draft agreement between Turkey and the U.S., he told Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman that all bets were off and responded immediately with a huge Russian shipment of anti-air missiles, radar systems and computer hardware.

The Israelis were left with no choice but to take them out...which also leaves Putin little choice but to bring in the Russian military directly when and if U.S. planes start intervening on behalf of Syria's Islamist rebels.

Russia reacted promptly to the Israeli raid with a formal protest to the UN demanding “that such attacks should not happen again… Moscow is deeply worried by this dangerous development, the circumstances of which demand an explanation.”

Stay tuned.

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