17 April 2014

30 Hours Earlier. Ukraine Crisis

All the elements are already in place for miscalculation and the nightmare scenario for the West: a shooting war with Russia.

17-Apr 2014: Diplomats claim to have reached a deal on defusing Ukraine crisis. However a Russian statement to "disband illegal armed groups" also is referring to the groups in Kiev - while the West and the Americans are referring to pro-Russian armed groups in the east - and not Kiev. So we don't see this as anything resembling authentic agreement here - just more polite polarization and entrenchment.

17-Apr 2014: A false news story spins out of control (first appearing here) of a leaflet telling Jew's to register in eastern Ukraine. The US Secretary of State John Kerry treats flyer as fact.

"Ukrainian National Guardsmen overnight on April 17 killed 3 rebels and injured 13 more when a group tried taking over their military base in Mariupol, Donetsk Oblast’s . According to Ukrainian sources 63 rebels were captured."

[Above] 16-Apr 2014: What might be 05 Blue MiG-29C one of eight Fulcrums of Ukrainian Air Force Ukrainian Falcons Aerobatic Display Team colors. 05 Blue may have been forward deployed to Vasilkov AB similar to some other MiG-29s for protection of the Capital.

Also four (4) of the best Su-27P examples of 831st TAB of Myrgorod AB have been detached to Kulbakino AB and the Air Command Center of UkAF has doubled their number this past week. These are: 45 Blue, 46 Blue, 100 Blue, and 101 Blue respectively. Primary role is air defense and their secondary role is CAP for Ukrainian Su-25s performing CAS.

Despite assertions from Brussels - NATO will not be able to project air power very effectively in a confrontation with Russia. This will force NATO reliance on Tomahawk and Cruise-missile class weapons.

16-Apr 2014: Separatists taking victory lap in Ukrainian army vehicles in Kramatorsk. In Slovyansk the Ukrainian army refused to shoot fellow countrymen and some Ukrainian troops defected or are returning to barracks on buses. Remarkable.

Photograph: Alexander Ermochenko/AP
[Above] This UkAF Su-27P over Kramatorsk armed with three R-27s, two R-73s, fake underside canopy paint, and previously unseen dark nose.

Misinformation/disinformation are tools of armed conflict. Here appears to be a good example? The Americans are not immune from this behavior (far from it) and we will catch them out - soon enough. How committed the Ukraine military is - to actually defending Ukraine against Russia - is with near certainty being overstated by the West

15-Apr 2014: Ukrainian troops have reportedly retaken an airfield in the eastern city of Kramatorsk. Here are two videos of a UkAF Su-27P and Su-25S over Kramatorsk (UkAF aircraft are also reported over Slovyansk).
Video: Sergey Gakov

Video: Sergey Gakov

[Below] 13-Apr 2014: We don't know what is video is - but it claimed to be a firefight between Ukrainian forces and Russian or pro-Russian paramilitaries in Slovyansk.

13-Apr 2014: Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian paramilitaries have traded gunfire in Slovyansk in mainland eastern Ukraine. Government forces were supported by at least one Mi-24 gunship. At least one Ukrainian officer KIA, many WIA on both sides. Russia has requested an emergency meeting of the UN security council.

"In the latest volume of his acclaimed biography of Lyndon B. Johnson, Robert A. Caro repeats a long-standing but erroneous myth about the Cuban missile crisis. Drawing on early accounts of the crisis, he describes a confrontation on Oct. 24, 1962, between American destroyers and Soviet ships carrying nuclear missiles to Cuba. According to Mr. Caro, the Soviet vessels were “within a few miles” of the blockade line, but turned away at the last moment.

This was the moment when Secretary of State Dean Rusk, by his own account, uttered the most memorable line of the missile crisis: “We’re eyeball to eyeball, and I think the other fellow just blinked.”

The “eyeball to eyeball” imagery made for great drama (it features in the 2000 movie “13 Days”), but it has contributed to some of our most disastrous foreign policy decisions, from the escalation of the Vietnam War under Johnson to the invasion of Iraq under George W. Bush. 

If this were merely an academic debate, it would not matter very much. Unfortunately, the myth has become a touchstone of toughness by which presidents are measured. Last month, the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, called on President Obama to place a “clear red line” before Iran just as “President Kennedy set a red line during the Cuban missile crisis.”

While researching a 2008 book on the missile crisis, I plotted the positions of Soviet and American ships during this period, on the basis of United States intelligence records. I was stunned to discover that the lead Soviet ship, the Kimovsk, was actually 750 miles away from the blockade line, heading back toward the Soviet Union, at the time of the supposed “eyeball to eyeball” incident. Acting to avert a naval showdown, the Soviet premier, Nikita S. Khrushchev, had turned his missile-carrying freighters around some 30 hours earlier.

Kennedy was certainly bracing for an “eyeball to eyeball” moment, but it never happened. There is now plenty of evidence that Kennedy — like Khrushchev — was a lot less steely-eyed than depicted in the initial accounts of the crisis, which were virtually dictated by the White House. Tape-recorded transcripts of White House debates and notes from participants show that Kennedy was prepared to make significant concessions, including a public trade of Soviet missiles in Cuba for American missiles in Turkey and possibly the surrender of the United States naval base at Guantánamo Bay.

While the risk of war in October 1962 was very high (Kennedy estimated it variously at between 1 in 5 and 1 in 2), it was not caused by a clash of wills. The real dangers arose from “the fog of war.” As the two superpowers geared up for a nuclear war, the chances of something going terribly wrong increased exponentially. To their credit, both Kennedy and Khrushchev understood this dynamic, which became particularly evident on the most nerve-racking day of all, “Black Saturday.”

By Saturday, Oct. 27, the two leaders were no longer in full control of their gigantic military machines, which were moving forward under their own momentum. Soviet troops on Cuba targeted Guantánamo with tactical nuclear weapons and shot down an American U-2 spy plane. Another U-2, on a “routine” air sampling mission to the North Pole, got lost over the Soviet Union. The Soviets sent MiG fighters into the air to try to shoot down the American intruder, and in response, Alaska Air Defense Command scrambled F-102 interceptors armed with tactical nuclear missiles. In the Caribbean, a frazzled Soviet submarine commander was dissuaded by his subordinates from using his nuclear torpedo against American destroyers that were trying to force him to the surface.

When it was all over, Kennedy aides sought to spin the crisis by depicting their man as fully on top of the situation. Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. later praised the “mathematical precision” with which Kennedy calibrated his threats of force against Cuba and the Soviet Union and the “composure, clarity and control” the president displayed.

14-Apr 2014: A Russian Su-24 [above] makes repeated passes at the USS Donald Cook (DDG-75) which had entered the Black Sea around 10-April. The USS Cook [below] is a 'Arleigh Burke-class missile destroyer' equipped with the Aegis phased array radar (known as the Aegis Compact System). Lets hope the events regarding the USS Vincennes shoot down of Iran Air Flight 655 in 1988 - have been corrected?

The White House tapes demonstrate that Kennedy was a good deal more nuanced, and skeptical, about the value of “red lines” than his political acolytes were. He saw the blockade — or “quarantine,” as he preferred to call it — as an opportunity to buy time for a negotiated settlement. But his aides came to believe their own propaganda. They thought that strategies like “controlled escalation” would work equally well against the North Vietnamese. In the judgment of Clark M. Clifford, who succeeded Robert S. McNamara as secretary of defense in 1968, they “possessed a misplaced belief that American power could not be successfully challenged, no matter what the circumstances, anywhere in the world.”

President Bush made a similarly fateful error, in a 2002 speech in Cincinnati, when he depicted Kennedy as the father of his pre-emptive war doctrine. In fact, Kennedy went out of his way to avoid such a war. Far from “ignoring” Khrushchev’s public offer of a Turkey-Cuba missile trade, Kennedy described it as a “pretty good proposition,” and sent his brother to seal the deal with the Soviet ambassador Anatoly F. Dobrynin on the night of Oct. 27. (As it turned out, the Americans were able to keep the missile deal secret for many years.)

Separatist forces in Slovyansk 13-Apr 2014.
In deciding how to respond to Khrushchev, Kennedy was influenced by his reading of “The Guns of August,” Barbara W. Tuchman’s 1962 account of the origins of World War I. The most important lesson he drew from it was that mistakes and misunderstandings can unleash an unpredictable chain of events, causing governments to go to war with little understanding of the consequences.

It is a lesson that Presidents Johnson and Bush would have been wise to ponder when considering what to do in Vietnam and Iraq, and one that remains valid today."

Michael Dobbs is the author of “Six Months in 1945: F.D.R., Stalin, Churchill and Truman — From World War to Cold War,” the final volume in a trilogy about the cold war. A version of this op-ed appeared in print on October 16, 2012, on page A31 of the New York edition with the headline: The Price of a 50-Year Myth.

- All media found here is for scholarship and research purposes and protected under U.S. Internet ‘Fair Use’ Law - 

Calculus over Crimea and the Weimar Republic

14-Apr 2014: Updates on Ukraine Crisis see here.
Photo: Chris Lofting
[Above] EAF (Ukrainian Air Force) Su-27UB photographed during 'happier times' at Belbek in 2012.

History tells us that opposing forces must 'not be in close proximity' to one another. The probability of miscalculation is too high. Ukrainian and Russian forces must not provoke one another. This includes soldiers and paramilitaries on the ground, aircraft, and naval vessels (and now Russian and NATO aircraft and ships). This whole situation can turn into a shooting war – very easily.

One of our largest concerns has been these Russian/Pro-Russian paramilitary units (in Crimea) and perhaps elsewhere. They are volatile and dangerous - and were involved in the death of at least one Ukrainian soldier.

Details forthcoming - details will change. There is so much happening we've been forced to step back and attempt to give some larger historical perspective. Economics and military matters are never far apart. To understand what is happening and the forces at work regarding the Ukraine crisis - a quick revisiting of the economics in Europe in the 1930s is relevant here:

The first Wall-Street crash of 1929 destabilized the fragile Weimar Republic (a semi-presidential republic established in 1919 in Germany to replace the imperial form of government). The 29 crash and resulting Great Depression was (also) a global phenomenon - and would be 'the stick that broke the camels back' for the fledgling German Republic. The ravaged German economy produced a surge of Xenophobia and Nationalism - and plunged Germany into the arms of the National Socialist German Workers' Party.

“Ukraine's economy was buoyant despite political turmoil between the prime minister and president until mid-2008. The economy contracted nearly 15% in 2009, among the worst economic performances in the world. In April 2010, Ukraine negotiated a price discount on Russian gas imports in exchange for extending Russia's lease on its naval base in Crimea.” – CIA World Fact Book

For the roots of the current crisis in Ukraine, the second massive Wall Street crash of 2008-09 asphyxiated the fragile Ukrainian economy and destabilized an already precarious Kiev government. Indeed 5 years after the crash - the Ukrainian economy is in ruins.

After independence Ukraine has been subjected to a lethal cocktail of:
  1. Insufficient history of/with democratic institutions.
  2. Endless internal corruption and plunder.
  3. A second massive global Wall-Street bank crisis.
Academics and other thinkers - appear to have missed this point.

With talk of western style austerity measures by the interim Kiev government, we wonder if the larger threat of further destabilization of Ukraine are the bond traders. Like jumping from the trying pan into the fire. Ukraine must get on solid economic footing. Austerity measures (at this point in history) can not do that – and will only serve to sow instability.

We are using inauthentic threat models in the Ukraine discussion. The real threat to global stability is a OOC (Out Of Control) Wall Street-Casino banking system and unprecedented debt. "Behavior of the 20 century" indeed: Xenophobia and Nationalistic rise in Ukraine 5 years after a financial collapse on par the Great Depression and with uncanny parallels to the Weimar Republic.

God help us if NATO expansion continues unchecked into former eastern block countries with fragile democracies and wrecked economies?

The United States, the EU, and the West must understand that people around the world may not wait for our institutions (the IMF, the World Bank, the Federal Reserve, other regulatory bodies) to ruminate about what steps should be taken after the 2008-09 global banking collapse - to move money in the direction of the low income and the (new) poor. And certainly not embark on austerity. The economy in Crimea had been even worse than the rest of Ukraine.

While we do not condone Mr Putin's actions - the West (the United States) can today only equivocate that it universally delivers "a better life" to its citizenry. Only Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein benefit.

If Kiev proceeds with austerity measures - we doubt the modern state of Ukraine will survive the end of the year. 

Russia announced $5-6 billion of infrastructure spending for Crimea including new bridge and quadrupling of state pensions and bureaucratic pay. At the same time antiwar protest erupts in Moscow.

[Below] Ukrainian 25th Airborne Brigade moving toward eastern city of Donetsk

[Above] 07-Apr 2014: Su-27s over Donetsk.To date we assume they are Ukrainian. I.F.F. issues have begun.

There is no doubt the international system is taken a beating over this crisis. The plunder of the Ukrainian treasury by Yanukovych was not helpful.

20-Mar 2014: [Below] Ukrainian Navy vessels have been boarded by pro-Russian  paramilitaries. Again these people are reckless, volatile - very dangerous. There are also reports of defections by Ukrainian military personnel over to Russia.

15-Mar 2014: [Below] This video surfaced and appears to show Mil Mi-24 (NATO reporting name 'Hind') attack helicopters. Where this was recorded and whose helicopters - is unclear right now. 
14-Mar 2014:  [To date no evidence has been provided by Russian authorities of any NATO drone recoveries over Crimea.] Russia claims it recovered a NATO (US) MQ-5B drone from the 66th US brigade over Crimea airspace and claims it is the second drone to be detected, jammed, and recovered using the Russian Kvant 1L222 ‘Avtobaza’ ELINT System. A system like this may have been what allowed Iran to recover the CIA RQ-170. If true - NATO and the United States are going to be for a rude awakening as 11 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan has not been against a peer adversary. 
[Above] MQ-5B. The drone has roughly 11 hours of endurance. [Below] Russian Kvant ‘Avtobaza’ ELINT System.

14-Mar 2014: Russia redeployed 6 to 9 additional Su-27 fighters to Belarus. 

13-Mar 2014: USAFE (US Air Force Europe) has approximately 130+ Mission Ready fighter aircraft (3 fighter wings divided into 6 fighter squadrons, at 3 bases, in 3 countries).

F-16 Squadrons (62 F-16C and 6 F-16D) 
  • 510th FS at Aviano AB/Italy - 20 Mission Ready F-16CM and 2 F-16DM.
  • 555th FS at Aviano AB/Italy - 20 Mission Ready F-16CM and 2 F-16DM.
  • 480th FS at Spangdahlem /West Germany - 22 Mission Ready F-16CM and 2 F-16DM.
F-15 Squadrons (48 F-15E, 20 F-15C and 1 F-15D)
  • 492th FS at Lakenheath/GB - 24 Mission Ready F-15E.
  • 493rd FS at Lakenheath/GB - 20 Mission Ready F-15C and 1 F-15D.
  • 494th FS at Lakenheath/GB - 24 Mission Ready F-15E.
12-Mar 2014: MINSK, (RIA Novosti) – Belarus to ask Russia to deploy upwards of 15 additional combat aircraft on its territory in response to increased NATO military activity along the country’s borders.

06-Mar 2014: US sends twelve F-16CM/DMs from the 380th and/or the 555th to Poland plus six F-15Cs from the 493rd Fighter Squadron (UK) to the Baltic. Two KC-135s tankers and E-3 AWACS were dispatched eastward as well. One E-3 to Poland and a second E-3 to Romania. No F-22A stealth-fighter movements have been announced. 

If tensions continue to increase - pressure to forward deploy Raptors will increase. After all - this is what the F-22 was precisely designed to confront?

[Above] USAF F-16s from Aviano AB Italy - visiting new Polish F-16s at Łask AB in 2013. [Below] F-15C based at Lakenheath in the UK.
[Below] 07-Mar 2014: The Russian navy scuttles a decommissioned Kara-class cruiser ‘Ochakov’ across the mouth of Donuzlav Lake to prevent Ukrainian navy ships from access to/from the Black Sea. 

[04-Mar 2014] Colonel Yuri Mamchur, commander of the Ukrainian garrison at the Belbek air base, leading his men to base is confronted by (what we believe are) Russian paratroopers (in helmets) together with another group of paramilitaries. Ukrainian MiG-29 (Fulcrum-Cs) of the 204th Tactical Aviation Brigade are clearly visible on tarmac, (likely non-flyable examples). Pay close attention to body language of the trooper. He keeps his hands behind his back - with weapon in front. This is a non-aggressive posture. The magnitude of this whole situation is written all over his face. One paramilitary uses his cell phone - so NSA should know all about this?

As it stands right now - economic sanctions by the US on Russia may prove highly problematic especially for Boeing and Lockheed (see hyperlinks).

All possible steps to de-escalate the situation should be undertaken by all parties. If this turns into a shooting war - nothing good will come of it.

After the break-up of the USSR Ukraine retained are large contingent of Soviet aircraft. However since that time the Ukraine's fixed wing force has dwindled markedly.
[Top] Su-27 (NATO code name 'Flanker') of the 831st Tactical Aviation Brigade based at Myrhorod. By 2014 the Ukrainian Su-27 force has dwindled to less than 20 operational examples. Four Su-27s operating from Belbek Airbase in Crimea conducted CAPs for the Olympic Games in Sochi. Photograph likely taken ~ 2011.

After the collapse of the USSR some Ukrainian Flankers found their way to Eritrea, (Ethiopia ?), the United States, and a T-10K (Su-33 prototype) went to China to become the Shenyang J-15. The PRC acquisition may be a lingering source of friction between Moscow and Kiev? Although the two UB examples that went to the US had their weaponry removed, it is unclear if the acquisitions had tacit approval from Moscow.

[Below] Good shot of Ukrainian Su-25M.
photos: airheadsfly
[Above] This photo appeared on 03-Mar 2014 of a Ukrainian Su-27 fully loaded for air-to-air mission. Aircraft "45" was likely photographed during the CAP missions conducted for the Sochi Olympics Games flying out of Belbek in Crimea - just weeks before the crisis. Note the Su-27 series never operate with external drop tanks.

02-Mar 2014: This video of what are clearly Mil Mi-28 (NATO reporting name 'Havoc') attack helicopters. This type is not operated by Ukraine, but is operated by the Russian Federation.

[Below] The first sign of trouble. Believed to be Russian 'Hind' gunship helicopters over Crimea on 28-Feb 2014:

Strength (operational) of Ukrainian Air Force might be around:
  • 16 - Su-27
  • 15-20 - Mig-29
  • 8 - Su-24M
  • 5 - Su-24MR
  • 14-18  Su-25
MiG-29Cs of the the UAF (Ukrainian Air Force) in Crimia. These aircraft do not appear airworthy. How much money has been siphoned out of the Ukraine's treasury by ceaseless corruption - is unknown. The UAF has two additional MiG-29 squadrons. One in Kiev and another in Ivano-Frankovik AB. The number of airworthy examples at Kiev and Ivano-Frankovik is unknown.

[Above/Below] 40+ Fulcrum Cs and UBs of the 40th TAB, 114th TAB, and 204th TAB stored at Belbek AB in Crimea.
Russian air power simply annihilated Georgian ground forces during the Russia–Georgian War of 2008, and operated under impossible IFF (identification friend or foe) conditions - as the Georgians operated the same aircraft types, helicopters types, and vehicle/armor types as Russia. This fact was totally (totally) missed by both Western and Russian analysts.

Details will appear as they are available. From the BBC News.

[Below] Russian gas pipelines move through Ukraine and Belarus to Western Europe and EU.

There is no doubt the international system has taken a beating over this crisis in Ukraine-Crimea. As uncomfortable as this is; there are also eerie parallels to US actions in Grenada in 1983, Panama in 1989, and particularly Haiti in 2004-05. 

The international system had already been bludgeoned by the invasion of Iraq in 2003, Abu Ghraib, drone strikes (killing hundreds of innocent foreign nationals - including children), detentions at CIA facilities off US soil (like Poland), Guantanamo Bay, NSA collection, reckless Wall Street-Bank regulation, and torture. These events reveal a government that is Out of Control.

This is does not exonerate Russian actions over Crimea; however we hold the United States to a higher standard of behavior. And with respect to the international system.

Perhaps the Social Democrats in Germany warnings on the situation in Ukraine, have said it best: "Europe stands dangerously close to the brink of a military confrontation.” “One hundred years after the start of World War I, military force should never again become the means of conducting politics” “Europe stands at a crossroads” “We must do everything in our power to prevent a new division of our continent and a regression into a pattern of confrontation long considered overcome.”

The Europe and the U.S. have been abuzz with speculation on Putin’s world view and intention(s). This might be very simple. Russia has always developed a counter to American advances. Russia might simply be returning to its former role - of restraining the United States and American influence?

Your thoughts?

- All media found here is for scholarship and research purposes and protected under U.S. Internet ‘Fair Use’ Law - 

16 April 2014

Death by Proxy. Syria’s Civil War

16-Apr 2014: Jordanian air force destroys vehicles trying to cross from Syria.

27-Mar 2014: SyAAF MiG-29 strafes straight at the camera!

25-Mar 2014: Footage of what appears to be a SyAAF MiG-25 Foxbat (!) The aircraft appears to be the 'interceptor version' as has under wing pylons are visible.

One of the most intriguing and powerful Soviet aircraft ever built (designed to shot down the American XB-70), most observers had assumed the MiG-25 (PD interceptors and RB reconnaissance variants) had been phased out of Syrian service years ago. Foxbat pilots would be some of the best trained in the entire SyAAF. Large and powerful the MiG-25 could challenge Israeli IDF-AF incursions as the Foxbat can reach altitudes of over 70,000 ft at speeds over Mach-3. MiG-25 RBs based in Syrian flew reconnaissance missions over Israel well into the 1990s. Even with weapons the MiG-25PD (normally restricted to around Mach-2.8) can reach speeds in excess of Mach-3 in an emergency. The Foxbat’s historical combat record (with all operators) has only recently begun to be known to the West.
(SyAAF MiG-25RB / Tom Cooper)

23-Mar 2014: A SyAAF MiG-23MF or MiG-23BN was shot down near the Turkish/Syrian border possibly by Turkish F-16s. Pilot (Thabet Abdo Ismail) ejected and interviewed on Syrian television.

(SyAAF MiG-29A / Tom Cooper)
[Above] SyAAF MiG-29 has increasingly been pressed into service in the ground attack role. The SyAAF originally acquired 48 MiG-29A and UB (two seat trainers) in the late 1980s. The current disposition of the Syrian MiG-29 fleet is been difficult to assess with certainty. Stay tuned.

21-Mar 2013: In the middle a Russian/Ukrainian crisis dramatic new footage appears out of Syria. SyAAF MiG-23 and MiG-29 attack the Ahrar ash-Sham (Islamic Front) after 'Base 559' is overrun near ar-Ruhhaybah. The SyAAF aircraft are operating with full knowledge of no MANPAD threat.

This murderous civil war goes on without end. The magnitude of human suffering has been monstrous. Perhaps events regarding Ukraine will have some positive effects in ending this war in Syria?

13-Feb 2013: reports on non Syrian pilots being used by the regime to fly CAS. This is unconfirmed. Tension(s) between the Syrian Army and Hezbollah units are reportedly increasing leading tot noncooperation with Hezbollah fighters.

02-Feb 2014: We may have a ceasefire in Homs. If this is true - this is extremely significant. See link.

As Geneva II talks proceed - the killing continues. Here a massive SyAAF air strike on Daraya, Rif Dimashq on 30-Jan 2014:

Possible ceasefire plan in the works see link. We remain skeptical however anything that stops the killing even for a short period - is welcome. We'll keep our fingers crossed.

Use of FROG missiles by the regime has now been documented. FROG class weapon employment should be part of any war crimes evidence against Assadists in Syria:

[Below] 27-Dec 2013: What appear to be a pair of Israeli F-15s near Qatana (which is some 12 km from Lebanese border). The aircraft in question could be inside Lebanese airspace, or made a shallow penetration into Syrian airspace. Undoubtedly a reconnaissance sortie due to clear weather.

[Above] 02-Nov 13: Propaganda video appeared depicting the Saudi supported Jaish al-Islam ("the Army of Islam") operating to two (2) ex-government L-39ZA light attack jets after Kshesh Air Base was overrun in February. Four (4) L-39s may have survived government air strikes after the base was lost. [Below] In a possible related development (16-Nov 2013) a rather remarkable video of a green-nosed SyAAF MiG-23MF fighter in action using full reheat/afterburner (with expendables) possibly searching for the Jaish al-Islam L-39 aircraft. There has also been increased tensions on the Syria/Turkish border.

[Above] This image surfaced last week as part of a series of photos of what appears to be Russian paratroopers, possibly from the 45th Reconnaissance Regiment. Faces were published unblurred(?) Units from the 45th saw action in Chechnya and South Ossetia. We are unable to make out the serial number of the SyAAF Su-24MK in the background.

31-Oct 13: Reportedly Israel strikes Russian weapons shipment in Syria. Possibly SA-3s. If it was Israel it most likely used its AGM-142 "Popeye" stand-off attack missiles once again.

Iranian behavior should not come as a complete surprise. Both countries signed a mutual defense agreement in 2006.

[Below] The first SyAAF MiG-29 is documented in its first official appearance conducting attack sorties over Damascus. Why the type has been pressed into service is unclear. Perhaps it is because the (now) unlikely chance of western air strikes over CW. MiG-29 is a short-range point-defense fighter with air-to-ground capabilities. We are not observing any behavior by SyAAF aircraft indicating a MANPAD threat. Aircraft appear to simply fly above (out of range) of opposition AAA guns.

In another development [below] Kurdish ATGMs hit Jihadist armor! Incredible. We have been wondering for months when we would start seeing footage clearly showing government-opposition forces fighting one another. Jihadist forces have induced a three front war: with Assadist, with secular FSyA, and with the Kurds [what remains of those identified as the FSyA are fighting on two fronts against Assadist and Jihadist. Also in this clip we are spared from listening to endless chanting of “Allahu Akbar!” and to be frank - it is refreshing. The US should take a serious look at assisting the Kurds.

[Above] Kurdish female fighters taking on Jihadist forces in Syria. We have got to support the Kurds in this. Articles and photos here and here and here.
For some time now we find ourselves supporting neither side in this horrific war. The sheer toll in human suffering defies comprehension (with over 100,000 dead and perhaps 5 million displaced both in and outside Syria). Assad is a monster who thinks his family has the right to shoot, bomb, and gas its way to victory while the opposition has degenerated into a mishmash of Jihadist fighters (with support from Gulf States) hell bent on plunging Syria back to 11th century. Somehow a ceasefire (as in the Balkans) seems the only hope for people of Syria. Any western air strike (zero chance now) would need to hit Assad and opposition Jihadist forces - at the same time. Currently the only recourse for the west is to assist refugees and to document and identify those to be apprehended for war crimes. An exceedingly unsatisfying prospect while the killing goes on - and on - and on. Having said that, the Kurds appear to have emerged as the best bet for western military assistance.  Securing Syrian chemical weapons remains more urgent than ever. 

Russian support for Assad and the other proxy elements supporting various sides in the Syrian Civil War is really about the  future of gas pipeline route(s) to the EU?

The FSyA says is will not attend a new round of peace talks scheduled for 22-Jan 2014 in Geneva. This is unfortunate. We think Nobel laureate F. W. De Klerk would be a ideal choice as chief ceasefire negotiator.

The assertions by RT on the events of 21-Aug are almost absurd. The night of 21-Aug one can hear rocket after rocket being fired (eerie howl and then detonations). CW employment requires sufficient rounds on target for effect. So one or two Jihadist or others firing a few 140mm rockets does not gas 1400 people. Neither Jihadist nor anyone else has ever used CW in 10 years of war in Iraq, Afghanistan, nor has Hezbollah in 2006 against Israel. Neither has Iran. So the idea that foreign fighters brought their own CW into Syria is simply not supported by historical evidence.  If the Russian Federation cannot come to a reasoned assessment on events in Syria then its position as a permanent member on the UN Security Council is undermined. So we thank Russia for its plan to remove all WMD from Syria. The sooner the better. 

Russia has privately concluded regarding 21-Aug: a) Assad ordered the attack, b) someone in his military ordered the attack. c) Assad has lost control of (some) CW to opposition forces. So controlling-destroying Assads CW arsenal is the only real course of action remaining. Assadists (or anyone else) attempting to gas their  way to victory would have it documented in moments and images available worldwide - in a sea of smart phones.  WMDs are political weapons -  not military options.

16-Sept 2013: UN report confirms that a Sarin nerve-gas attack occurred on 21-Aug in Damascus. Also confirmed was one type of surface-to-surface rocket documented on the Boresight (and elsewhere) used to employ Sarin nerve-gas to murder over 1000 people. August-21 will be remembered as dark day for humanity. We strongly advocate that the perpetrators be identified and indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court. Start with this video. Who are the uniformed personnel in red berets?

[Below] 16-Sept 13: Turkey announced it downed a Syrian Mi-17 helicopter that strayed 2 km over the border into turkey. The Mi-17 was at 14,500 ft and crashed 1 km within Syria. Parachute observed.

14-Sept 13: Rebel leaders attempt to throttle their proxies into direct military strikes against Assad.

11-Sept 13 Jobar, Outside Damascus. New reports of chemical weapons use. Unconfirmed. See link. Pro-rebel D.C. expert sacked for misrepresentation of credentials and facts.

A crease fire in Syria is urgently required. If indeed more CW use has occurred now in Jobar then WMDs are 'loose' in Syria and being used repeatedly. The situation (this war) is spinning out of control. A ceasefire is required.

11-Sept 13: U.N. Report will finger Assad regime for chemical large scale weapons attack of 21-Aug 13.

09-Sept 13: Obama: Syria proposal from Russia is 'potentially positive'. Obama remain skeptical but states he prefers a diplomatic solution over a military strike on Syria in response to a ghastly Sarin nerve gas attack 21-Aug on a Damascus suburb that killed nearly 1500 men, woman and children. The attack has rocked the international community and has initiated a sequence of events whose outcome remain uncertain.

08-Sept 13: RAF Typhoon and Turkish F-16s were scrambled over Cyprus after a 'Probe Sortie' (measuring the reaction of defenses) of two SyAAF Su-24 (air-interdiction/attack) aircraft was detected.

In a time where smart phone imagery is available worldwide in moments...the days of unrestrained behavior (by anyone) appears to be finished.

06-Sept 13: Government MiG-21 is hit in the port wing by AAA and is venting fuel. Location unknown. 

02-Sept 2013; After the United States Congress votes on whether (or not) to proceed with a military response to the event on 21-Aug in Syria - we will spawn a new post as was done in 2011.

03-Sept 13: SyAADF 'BUK-M2E' air defense system on the move at Mazze AFB in broad daylight. Indeed all manner of Syrian assets will be on the move to keep American-Allied target planners off balance. This is includes Syrians gutting and removing sensitive equipment from their fixed installations. There is something else 'big' and 'green' under a shelter in foreground at playback 0:24 but we are unable to discern what.

We would prefer that the true goal of any policy and actions by the US or a 'coalition of the willing' - must (must) be to enable the conditions for productive peace talks and a halt to the fighting. Any CW response and/or military escalation must set absolute conditions predicated on forcing the FSyA and the Assad regime into a ceasefire and direct talks. The madness and butchery that is the Syrian Civil War has now spun out-of-control with the introduction of CW use on repeated occasion. If the threat of force by US/France causes Assad to pause, withhold or put away his CW munitions - then one could (also) say this threat has already improved the CW calculus on the ground. However stopping the war through a ceasefire and talks must be US policy. Ideally those responsible for CW use should be handed over to the ICC (International Criminal Court).
28-Aug 2013: This still [above] is from a video [below] has appeared of the ‘mystery weapon’ being fired – consistent with munitions and may be associated with large scale chemical agent use in Syria on 21-Aug. It is indeed similar in layout to the British 60 lb rocket - with the weapon in the video being much larger. The mystery round can be clearly observed (in the back of an orange-red truck) before being fitted into its launch tube (white truck). Note the personnel in the video. They are uniformed troops some wearing red berets. The best 'educated guess' are members of the 405th SF Artillery Battalion using a 333mm 'Falaq-2' launcher. The gentleman in a red-orange jacket or shirt, yellow ball-cap, and khaki pants - should also be a person of interest regarding this munition. Where-when this firing was recorded is unknown as the CW attack on the 21-Aug occurred at night.

  • Whitehouse Press Release on the issue of CW use in Syria.
  • The horrors keep coming. From the BBC. Graphic Warning.
  • Some suggest that Assad is losing control of his military - see here.
  • Another report on Russia and Saudi Arabia on Syria.
  • A ceasefire and peace talks need to get started regardless of difficulty.
  • Video of Obama addressing the world and US actions in response to CW use in Syria on 21-Aug.
  • Russia detects ballistic rockets fired from central part of Mediterranean.
  • Russia pushes out delivery of S-300 air defense system for Syria until 2014.
  • [U.S.] Senate bill would give Syria 45 days to sign chemical weapons ban.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin writes OP-ED in the New York Times on Syria. Remarkable.
  • UN report on the chemical gas attack of 21-Aug.
[Above] Still from video of 06-Sept. SyAAF MiG-21 is hit in the port wing by AAA. 

01-Sept 13: US Navy carrier strike group was ordered to the Red Sea. This includes the 11th Carrier Air Wing (CVW-11) operating off the USS Nimitz (CVN-68).
(File: USN Nimitz-Class)

[Below] 02-Sept 13; SyAAF MiG-21 goes down over Deir EzZour. It may have been hit by rebel fire or just as likely - had a mechanical or pilot problem. A second government jet was claimed shot down somewhere over Qalamoon. Below is the crash in Deir EzZour [Video account terminated]:

[Below] Damascus: 27-Aug 13: Heavy fighting and heavy use of the Yugoslav M-79 anti-tank bazooka on regime armor. Even after two years of fighting - government forces seem to have an endless supply of MBTs (tanks) and BMPs (armored personnel carriers):

[Below] 27-Aug 2013:  An American E-4B Command and Control aircraft caught on the ground by a photographer at  Incirlik, Turkey. Perhaps the behind-the-scene preparations for military action over Syria are more pervasive than being communicated.
[Below ] A US-Navy E-6B ‘Mercury’ was reported spotted of the coast of the UK  possibly en-route to the Mediterranean . The E-6 is used to relay instructions to USN submarines and seats 23.
[Below] A WC-135 was reported over the Mediterranean 28-Aug 13. It serves as an aerial collection platform for the US Air Force Technical Applications Center (AFTAC). It seats 33.
With civil war in Syria grinding through into its second year and as the Assad family and the Alawite minority attempts to retain the status quo by the use of heavy force, the probability of a wider conflict has increased and is increasing.  We sensed something was seriously afoot before Hezbollah directly entered the fighting. Now it appears Iran will as well? Therefore we have elected to publish an additional writing here. Things could get even more complicated very quickly.

[Below] 25-Aug 13: Below This video is incorrectly labeled. SyAAF aircraft (likely a MiG-23BN) is hit by a rebel MANPAD and aircraft landing-drag-chute comes off – not the pilot ejection chute. Aircraft likely escapes.

Indeed as of 21-Aug 13 it appears there has been another larger chemical-agent attack occurring outside Damascus in the early morning. Video here [NYT] and here may show ordnance behavior consistent with chemical munitions. But this remains unconfirmed as of yet. Civilian casualty figures range from hundreds to over 1000 including scores of woman and children. The accusations, denials and recriminations are already flying. The war may take a dramatic turn if this scale of chemical weapon use - is verified. However that verification can be difficult.

The question might be can not the United States verify chemical weapons use with satellites or CW sniffing drones over Syria? While were not curtain about the first question – the second question is no. This is because you can not use drones over countries that do not want your drones in their airspace that have any type of air force or integrated air defense. Your drones get shot down. Drones can only operate in any useful way if A) with permission by the nation. B) Fighter escort-CAP. C) Countries without integrated air defenses or air forces.

28-Aug 13: The UN security council is now taking up probable heavier scale use of CW in Syria.

[Below] 22-Aug 2013 Eastern district Damascus: This is the weapon of interest. It is of unknown origin so could be produced in Syria. Information on chemical munitions is not easy to research in the public sphere as globally these class of weapons are kept away from public view. Had it been a high explosive round the rocket body would not have remained intact (unless a dud) or it a low yield dispersal round consistent with CW delivery. A similar munition was filmed by rebels in Daraya, south-west Damascus 04-Jan 2013.
[Above] It may have similarities in layout to the old [below] British 60lb air-to-ground rocket - with the weapon in Syria being perhaps larger and with 6 tail-fins. The Syrian rocket has a round collar at the back enclosing part of the fin assembly consistent with Russian/Soviet designs. Indeed see first video at top of post.
(British 3-inch rocket with 60lb warhead)
The war has taken on monstrous proportions in human suffering and death, producing over one million now exceeding two million refugees and a death toll upwards of 90,000 - now exceeding 100,000. Though peace talks have (had) been proposed for July in Geneva - it has come to nothing.

[11-Sept 13: Now talks are back on the front burner after Parliament in the UK and US Congress rebuffed a military only option.]

Very interesting video of a Chechen member of the Jaish al-Muhajireen al-Ansar (ISIS unit) describing the results of one of local battles near Lattakia dated early August 2013 [Video account terminated]

Anti-Assad Jihadi groups the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Jabhat al- Nusra (JAN) have attempted an offensive against the Kurds in the north of the country. The Kurdish YPG militias launched a counter offensive to sweep Jihadi elements out. Jihadis have already killed secular rebel FySA (Free Syrian Army) commanders. Conversely the ISIS provided a Saudi national suicide-bomber who drove and detonated a BMP filled with 3 tons of explosives to help take rebels take Menegh Air Base.

As of 11-Aug 13 the SyAAF is extremely active the last 2-3 days, flying many sorties. SyAAF air power so far is intense enough as to halt anti-government forces (according to AJE) advance down the coast. Targeting included:
  • Districts of Homs held by insurgents are heavily hit (nearly 30 deaths reported there since Saturday).
  • ar-Raqqah was hit at least five times in the last 24 hours.
  • Heavy air strikes are in progress against villages in Lattakia Province taken during anti-Assad offensive there the last week.
  • Binesh in Idlib Province heavily hit yesterday.
[Above] This photograph (re)surfaced in late July 2013 as part of a series of SyAAF MiG-29s and appear to be authentic. It is now understood as likely taken in 2010 during Syrian air show. What is of particular interest here is the white missile-launch-rail. It is consistent with AKU-170 – that fire the R-77 (AA-12) missile. The R-77 is a modern Russian fire-and-forget weapon equivalent to the American AIM-120.

[Above] Su-24MK over Talbiseh 15-Aug 2013. [Below] No.819 Squadron has some 12-15 operational Su-24 aircraft yet have flown no less than 258 sorties primarily over Aleppo, Idlib, Homs and Dayr az-Zawr Provinces. There is no indication of diminished tempo of operations. Su-24s sorties have actually now increased (increased) because of increased availability of the type.
Other SyAAF operational sortie counts include approximately: 170 (L-39s), 590 (MiG-21s), 412 (MiG-23s), and 532 (Su-22s). Whatever Obama’s views of SyAAF (pilot) proficiency – the SyAAF  gains greater operational proficiency every time they fly.

The belligerents in Syria proper are being backed directly and indirectly by proxy elements.

Supporting Assad in various forms is Russia, Hezbollah, and Iran. Fighting against the Assadists is the FSyA (Free Syrian Army) supported in various forms by the United States, France, Great Britain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey. Jihadist groups have also involved the fighting against Assad although not in unison with Syrian rebels.

Indeed - BEIRUT, 12-July (Reuters) Syrian rebels said the assassination of one of their top commanders by al Qaeda-linked militants was tantamount to a declaration of war, opening a new front for the Western-backed fighters.]

Israel backed by the United States has stuck Syria three (3) times with air-strikes since the Syrian civil war began (reportedly to halt SAM shipments to Hezbollah) - and has now threatened to attack a Russian shipment of S-300 air-defense system(s) or the systems themselves. These threats force Washington to give greater direct support to rebels.

If a No-Fly Zone is attempted by the United States and others – then we are at war with Syria and by de facto also at war by proxy with those supporting the Syrian government.

We would remind the reader that Russia has offered and may yet put troops on the Golan?

US policy should be aimed at helping to set conditions for productive talks in Geneva. Uniformed US military personnel deployed just outside Syrian borders and in refugee camps armed only with medicine, stethoscopes, food, and water - might be more powerful weapons - than any No-Fly-Zone.

16-Jun 2013: Various sources reporting that Iran is to send the first contingent of 4,000 Iranian Revolutionary Guards to Syria to aid President Assad forces. This is still unconfirmed.

15-Jun 2013: Russia warns that any effort by the United States and others to impose a no-fly zone over Syria would violate international law. Russia’s foreign minister also said that evidence of Syrian chemical weapons use cited by the U.S. (France and Britain) does not meet requirements of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

Excellent story on a little reported aspect of the conflict by the Washington Post.

14-Jun 2013: U.S. military proposal for arming Syrian rebels also calls for a limited no-fly zone inside Syria that would be enforced from Jordan. "Military planners believe it would be dangerous to set up a major operation inside Jordan to arm the rebels without creating a no-fly zone to hold Syrian aircraft back."

13-Jun 2013 [CNN]: The United States announces that Syrian government has (has) used Sarin chemical warfare agents on a small scale in Syria's civil war. American cable media outlets are asserting that the rebels have only AK-47s and light arms against Assad tanks and air force. Anyone who follows this blog or this issue closely - knows this is an exaggeration. We've seen countless video and photographs of rebels with heavy weapons. Having said that - with the insertion of Hezbollah forces into the war, rebels are now under grave threat in Aleppo.

[Above] 15-May 2013: This rebel T-55 has an ATGM (anti-tank guided missile) whiz over the top of it. It is quickly motioned off the rise. The tank crew lucky to be alive.

[Above] Russian photo of Su-24 munition options that include all manner of free-fall and drag-retarded iron bombs, cluster munitions, rocket pods and precision guided rounds. The Su-24 is a swing-wing air-interdiction/strike aircraft with a crew of two (2) in the same class as the Panavia Tornado and General Dynamics F-111. [When this class of aircraft operate at high speed and low level, they are almost impossible to hit.] Syria has received the 'export' version of the Fencer with "downgraded" capability -  nonetheless SyAAF Su-24s remain powerful machines.

[Above/Below] Syria has used her small number of Su-24MKs to pound rebel positions, cities and level neighborhoods. Death toll estimates have been horrific, perhaps as high as 93,000 to date. The Su-24 has faced increasing threats from rebel MANPAD and heavy AAA - however has simply responded with higher speed attacks (see video below) - for which rebels have effectively no defense:

Thankfully during the Libyan civil war, government Su-24s were not observed operating to their full  potential - and one was lost over Ras Lanuf to rebel AAA. In Syria the SyAAF is equipped and trained to confront Israel - and so (unfortunately) SyAAF operational proficiency with this aircraft - will be much better - and improving. One SyAAF Su-24 was lost in March 2012. However [below] we now have video documenting the use the PGMs (Precision Guided Munitions) by SyAAF Su-24s. This is leveraging Fencer capabilities to a much greater degree than was seen in Lybia:

[Above] 13-Jun 2012: Rebels with a Chinese-made 'FN-6' MANPAD, Aleppo.

03-Jun 2013: United States is sending Patriot SAM battery and twenty (20) F-16 fighters to Jordan for exercises. Some number F-16C aircraft and maintenance crews were deployed from the 140th Wing Air National Guard unit out of Buckley AFB (Colo) to participate in Exercise 'Eager Lion 2013'. Scheduled for two weeks, the exercise will reportedly involve 15,000 personnel from 18 countries including Bahrain, Canada, Czech Republic, Egypt, France, Iraq, Italy, Lebanon (Lebanon??), Pakistan, Poland, Qatar, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, UAE, as the UK. Israel will not participate. Jordan has hosted two 'Eager Lion' exercises in June 2011 and May 2012.


The US says it may keep F-16s in Jordan to counter the threat(s) posed by Syria's civil war. Lieutenant Colonel T.G. Taylor: "In order to enhance the defensive posture and capacity of Jordan, some of these assets may remain beyond the exercise at the request of the Government of Jordan"

Regardless if Assad gets his S-300 air defense system(s) a no-fly-zone inside Syria would be a perfect mission for the American F-22A? with no need for SAM suppression assets? Quote: "Dominating the Skies. Overwhelming the Threat."...more likely the assertions from F-22 proponents are complete nonsense. F-22 will require all manner of other EW aircraft to operate in conjunction over Syria.

(photo: file)
In another development MiG (Российская самолетостроительная корпорация МиГ) formerly called  Mikoyan-and-Gurevich Design Bureau, has announced it will deliver possibly up to 24 new MiG-29 M/M2 (Микоян и Гуревич МиГ-29) fighters to Syria for a contact was reportedly signed back in 2007. Mig-29M/M2 are closer to MiG-29SMT in terms of avionics, weapons, and capabilities minus pronounced dorsal hump or in-flight refueling probe. MiG-29 'M' variants also have upgraded RD-33MK Klimov smokeless engines (engine soot was a long time compliant and understood as a tactical disadvantage as soot can be seen at great distance) and have higher thrust ratings. No Syrian MiG-29s have (yet) been observed in use by the SyAAF in the war. Though the aircraft theoretically could be thrown into the fighting, the Syrians are holding all MiG-29 'fighters' in reserve in the event of direct foreign/western intervention employing sustained air power.

Surely 'Eager Lion 2013' will be viewed with trepidation as have S-300 delivery announcements.

[Above]  Possible new MiG-29M/M2 being readied for Syria.

[Above] MiG-29 M2 at Aero India in 2005.

[Above] MiG-29 SMT. [Below] Photos of SyAAF MiG-29s from a Syrian air show in 2010.

[Below] What Russian English-language news is reporting:

[Below] 20-Jun 2013: Idlib, rebel 9M113 ‘Konkurs’ (NATO name: AT-5 Spandrel) wire-guided anti-tank missile makes a direct hit on a regime main battle tank and ignites the tanks ammunition - with frightening results.

[Below] FSyA reconnaissance of Abu Dhour (Kweres) AFB. Row of MiG-23 can be seen.

[Below] Rebel MBT hits a huge LNG (liquefied natural gas) storage tank.

[Below] Compilation of urban fighting apparently from Darayya. Graphic warning!

T-72AV “T-74” and the first armored Bulldozer we have seen - of the 4th Division in Barzeh:

[01-Aug 13] The video was widely shown by western news media. Rebel hit an Assad ammunition dump in Homs with mortar fire:

[Below] Damascus: Liwa al-Islam is on advance. It appears they have accrued better part of a company from the 4th Division. This includes at least 150 Milans, Kornets, and Konkurs ATGM rounds. Some sources claim Assad's own thugs sold the heavy armor to the Liwa al-Islam.

[Above] Our apologies for this video with music. The original video without any music was account terminated. 

Rebel heavy armor moving in broad daylight [above] like this Liwa al-Islam's column near Damascus – can not (not) be a good indicator for the SyAAF ability to respond to events on the ground. MANPAD proliferation and at least one documented SA-8 capture [below] within rebel ranks has exacerbated the problem(s) for Assad air power.

ACIG: “major development in most of northern Syria is an offensive of the JAN (Jabhat al- Nusra ) and ISIS  (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria ) against Kurdish-held areas, and a Kurdish counteroffensives against JAN and the ISIS. 

The YPG is calling Kurds to 'raise against Islamists', its offensive in northern Syria is continued. The YPG reported 'freeing another village' in Tel Abyad area (this should be Bir Kitik, SW from the town), and that the Islamists there are 'besieged, desperate and low on ammunition'. 

The JAN and the ISIS are concentrating large number of fighters in the Sarrin village, south of Kobani, apparently with intention to ease the siege of Tel Abyad. They have already attacked the village of Xelo (4km S of Serkaniye), but the YPG forced them to retreat by destroying one of JAN's vehicles. The YPG then launched a local counteroffensive and is reportedly in the process of cleaning the Islamists out of the area (for the start, they should have already secured two villages south of Serkaniye, along the road to Hassaka). 

The JAN and the ISIS have captured the town of Tel Aran, SW of Aleppo, surrounded the village of Tel Hassel, and killed 8 fighters from Jabhat al-Akrad in the course of the fighting there. Local activists report that the Islamists have kidnapped more than 200 Kurdish civilians from this area and beheaded some 17 so far. 

Reportedly, Turkey closed its border to JAN and ISIS meaning: their reinforcements can't enter Syria, nor leave. Kurds are also reporting that in Tal Kocher area the Islamists are already 'so desperate' that they started using suicide bombers. Makes one wonder what was the deal between Erdogan and Kurds? 

According to AFP Report from Tuesday (30-July 13), Iran and Syria have come to an agreement by which Tehran will supply Damascus with US$3 Billion worth of oil on loan. Supposedly, Tehran expects Damascus to repay the cost of the oil 'through Iranian Investments of various kinds in Syria'.

In addition Menngh AB may fall soon through the southern gate."

Indeed: The battle for Menegh AB: 

[Below] Regime calls in CAS (close air support) to pound rebel positions but perhaps too little too late. Here an Su-22. The SyAAF has also been known to hit whatever remains of value in a base being overrun to keep equipment from capture by rebels.


[Below] Rebels [the ISIS] fill a BMP with 3 tons of explosives and a Saudi-national suicide-bomber drives it straight at the south entrance of Menegh AB:

...and the result:

SyAAF Mi-8 helicopters at Menegh AB after the base fell to rebels (Jihadi group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or 'ISIS') on 06-Aug 13. Whether any of these examples are flyable is unknown. To date rebels have shown no propensity to employ captured aircraft as we saw in Libya (see update on this 02-Nov).

[Below] Excellent video of a SyAAF MiG-21bis on final at Deir ez-Zor around 08-Aug 13.

[Below] AAA team attacked by aircraft they're shooting at.

[Below] Series if videos dated 21-Aug 2013 documenting heavy fighting and bombardment: SyAAF Mig-23BN operating over Ain Tarma and Zamalka dated 21-Aug 13:

[Below] SyAAF MiG-21 hit by rebel Chinese-made FN-6 MANPAD somewhere nearby Salma. Rebels have not been happy with other Chinese made weapons including ATGMs that on at least two occasions have simply exploded on release - killing their AT teams.

[Below] 10-Sept 13: Barzeh: Government air strike. The SyAAF has habitually hit food supplies and bakeries to force civilians out:

[Below] 09-Sept 13: Governmnet repositioning of 9K33M-class OSA (NATO: SA8-Gecko) SAM system at Mezzeh AFB:

[Below] Aleppo: yet another Russian designed tank is knockout by Russian designed 9M113 ‘Konkurs’ ATGM:

[Below] 11-Sept 13: Maloula. A terrifying sequence showing rebels caught out in the open by SyAAF Mi-25 Hind. To date we know of not a single (single) government Mi-25 being lost to enemy fire or MANPADs in this 2.5 year civil war. The heavy AA guns mounted on trucks will do little to bring down a Hind.

If peace talks again fail the stage is set for a widening and lengthening of this war - and even more Death by Proxy.

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