With their back at the wall, the ruling Allawis, backed by the Shiites turned to the use of massive bombardments and use of military forces, including ballistic missiles fired on areas held by rebels, indiscriminately hitting populated urban areas. In recent weeks more evidence came to light about the use of chemical weapons by the regime, although the means of delivery havent been clear. The world turned its back on these evidence, despite repeated warning. The main concern of the West was that such weapons would fall into the hands of islamic terror organizations and used elsewhere, causing massive casualties or for extortion. For Israel, the chances that such weapons would fall into the hands of Hezbollah were unacceptable.
Whether the Syrians were using missiles, artillery, air attacks or unmanned aircraft, facts proving the regime deployed such weapons, despite international warnings, are now clear. Following the escalation Washington has been considering ways to change its policy or assist the rebels. However, given the conflicting Russian interests in Syria, a direct involvement of Washington is unlikely. The Israelis are drawn into this vaccum, taking advantage of the Syrian chaos to take a tool from Iran and its proxies, destroying essential weapon shipments and destroying their strategic reserves.
With Hezbollah is eagerly supporting the Syrian regime with Iranian assistance, Syrian government forces have won back control of areas along the Lebanese border. But elsewhere, the situation is deteriorating as the country collapse into chaos. Iran, that for years have used Syria as a protecting staging area supporting its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah is realizing it is time to liquidate its investments, and seek a safer home for its assets in Lebanon. The missile storage at Mt. Qasioun was one of their storage sites. On this mountain, overlooking the capital Damascus, protected by the close proximity of the Syrian presidential palace and military installations, Iran stored ballistic missiles and ammunition it planned to ship to Hezbollah in a time of war.
But in the present Syrian chaos even Qasioun wasn't safe. In fact, the chaos became an opportunity to open an hunting season, seeking and destroying these missiles, and other weapons, the Israeli considered strategic in their military balance with Hezbollah. Since Thursday night, May 2rd, 2013 reports from Lebanon indicated the Israeli repeatedly performed 'mock airstrikes' from Lebanese territory toward the Syrian border, in daylight and at night.
It is now clear that these manoeuvres were not mock attacks but the real thing - as the planes actually launched stand-off weapons such as the SPICE glide bombs and Popeye missiles, made by RAFAEL. These weapons are capable of hitting targets over 100 kilometers away. The SPICE is a glide weapon, meaning it does not leave any smoke trail or any other indication, until impact. Such tactics would keep the Israeli fighters immune form Syrian air defense missiles that are still actively protecting Syrian airspace. Indeed, in the videos taken around Damascus during the attack only explosions could be heard, without the noise of the attacking jets.
The targets attacked on Thursday were a shipment of missiles located near Damascus International airport. They were targeted immediately after the shipment of Iranian missiles landed in Damascus. According to US sources these missiles were the latest Fateh-110 Mod 4 missiles, offering increased lethality and precision. About that time sirens were also activated on the Israeli side of the border, although no attacks were reported. Authorities attributed the repeated alarms to technical errors. Another attack that followed on Saturday night aimed at four storage sites on Jabel Qasioun, west of the Damascus, where targeting missiles and ammunition storages maintained by the Hezbollah. Video clips taken after the attack show massive explosions that followed the initial attacks, apparently caused by secondary explosions of rocket fuel or warheads. By morning, as rescue fores arrived at the area, explosions were still heard throughout the scorched area.
Using stand-off attacks from Lebanon enabled the Israelis to achieve their goal while keeping risks at manageable level. Although Israel demonstrated more than once its ability to overcome the Syrian defenses, going after such targets where enemy air defenses are alert and ready requires a significant preparation and massive destruction of most of the enemys air defense. Such a campaign, as was executed over the Lebanese Bakaa in 1982 would draw Israel, Syria and Lebanon into a massive missile exchange if not all out war.
The Israelis know the recent moves could draw retaliation from Syria or Lebanon, but considers such retaliation short term and limited in its intensity. On Sunday the Israeli Air Defense command has deployed two Iron Dome counter-rocket batteries to the north of Israel, protecting the major population centers and strategic sites likely to present targets to such missile attacks. The airspace in Northern Israel was also closed to civilian traffic, clearing the area for military operations; the Haifa municipality also increased alert, and announced that the 11 km long Carmel Tunnels would be providing a shelter in case the city is attacked as it was in 2006.
But the likelihood of counterattack is low. Since the strikes were directed at Hezbollah and Iranian assets, not the Syrian military, the Syrian regime can continue to threaten and promise painful retaliation as it did in the past, but refrain from action against Israel, at least not in an act that would escalate the situation. For Hezbollah, it seems the worst time to engage Israel in a conflict is now with their Iranian supply lines clearly exposed, as demonstrated by the recent Israeli attacks.
A good and fair assessment as any I have seen...
Wow. Great reporting!
Of course we didn’t hear any of this analysis on the Sunday news shows...We had the priority stuff..a gay athlete.
Russia has special forces in Syria, you know “mentoring” and such. If they are vaporized in an Israeli air strike, just how does Putin explain that to the families? Lost at sea training? Naturally, you might expect NorthKorea would up the rice ration to the survivors by say 10 percent and otherwise threaten beatings and detention. But, how will that fly in Russia?
In the coming weeks, this conflict will escalate into the biblical Psalm 83 War.
When it is over, Damascus will no longer be inhabitable.
Where is the source based? The English is interesting.
Let's see. Iran, Asssad, Hezbollah on one side... Al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas on the other side. Nobama in the middle.
Lessee. Whom to root for, whom to root for...? Decisions, decisions, decisions,...
The Israel interests are straightforward.
If the Syrians are true to their Soviet military training, the storage of chemical weapons is poor, looking much like a POL depot, with 55 gallon drums full of agents. This would be an irresistible target for Israeli attack.
Likewise, advanced missile systems will not be allowed to fall into the hands of Hezbollah in Lebanon, as they do represent a tangible threat to the IAF.