Syria

I have been wondering whether what might have happened is: a US/UK/Fr attack with some, small, loss of missiles to the most modern SAA SAM systems. At the same time, the older SAA were fired unguided for reasons of morale (akin to heavy AA directed at Zeppelins which the guns could not reach). This because the Syrians and Russians accepted that most Syrian SAM couldn't achieve much and didn't want the escalation of Ru SAM being used. IF S-300 are now being supplied to Syria, it may be to ensure that a future US or Israeli attack can be deterred (unlikely) or at least come at some cost of resources. It may also be why RuAF bases are, apparently, being better defended: it might have been thought that, while the RuAF could knock down some incoming missiles, the base itself was inadequately defended. All waffle and speculation oc but I don't think a future attack will be as easy as the last.
The three sites that the Americans said they hit were all sites which were on the list of known chemical weapons sites and were likely all decommissioned under supervision. It is quite possible that they were not in use for any important purposes and were well down on the priority list when it came to air defence coverage. The Syrians have finite resources and cannot protect everything equally, but rather have to focus their newest and best resources on the potential targets that are most critical to the war effort (which chemical weapons are not at this stage).

If we accept that they did launch at least some missile without guidance, they may have done so under the assumption that the cruise missile attack could have been the first phase of a multi-pronged attack which included manned aircraft. Recall that one of the Russian press releases mentioned that guided bombs were used in addition to cruise missiles. This doesn't mean that they were used, but it does show that this aspect was under consideration by the Syrians and Russians.

Now consider a situation where cruise missiles were the first wave of an attack which would see follow-up by manned aircraft after the cruise missiles had struck. There would be extensive electronic warfare being used by the Americans, and indeed something along those lines was mentioned by them. This could have added to the difficulty of picking out incoming aircraft amongst the background noise. The Syrians may have left their guidance radars turned off to avoid pointing themselves out as targets. They may have then launched some missiles without guidance in order to try to provoke a reaction from what they assumed may be an incoming wave of aircraft. That reaction could include either aborting the attack, or doing something which would cause the incoming aircraft to reveal themselves and make turning on the guidance radars worthwhile for a follow up volley of air defence missiles.

Given how the incident was reported by the Americans, it is possible that the Americans had some additional actions planned and were very disappointed that the Syrians didn't play according to the American script.

The above is only speculation, but only someone who is very familiar with current Syrian and Russian air defence policy, doctrine, and training could really say for sure whether it reflects the situation as it existed there at that time. Keep in mind that the standard western views of the "proper" way to conduct air defence start from the assumption of complete control of the skies and so can't be relied upon to tell us how things look from the opposite perspective.
 
The three sites that the Americans said they hit were all sites which were on the list of known chemical weapons sites and were likely all decommissioned under supervision. It is quite possible that they were not in use for any important purposes and were well down on the priority list when it came to air defence coverage. The Syrians have finite resources and cannot protect everything equally, but rather have to focus their newest and best resources on the potential targets that are most critical to the war effort (which chemical weapons are not at this stage).

If we accept that they did launch at least some missile without guidance, they may have done so under the assumption that the cruise missile attack could have been the first phase of a multi-pronged attack which included manned aircraft. Recall that one of the Russian press releases mentioned that guided bombs were used in addition to cruise missiles. This doesn't mean that they were used, but it does show that this aspect was under consideration by the Syrians and Russians.

Now consider a situation where cruise missiles were the first wave of an attack which would see follow-up by manned aircraft after the cruise missiles had struck. There would be extensive electronic warfare being used by the Americans, and indeed something along those lines was mentioned by them. This could have added to the difficulty of picking out incoming aircraft amongst the background noise. The Syrians may have left their guidance radars turned off to avoid pointing themselves out as targets. They may have then launched some missiles without guidance in order to try to provoke a reaction from what they assumed may be an incoming wave of aircraft. That reaction could include either aborting the attack, or doing something which would cause the incoming aircraft to reveal themselves and make turning on the guidance radars worthwhile for a follow up volley of air defence missiles.

Given how the incident was reported by the Americans, it is possible that the Americans had some additional actions planned and were very disappointed that the Syrians didn't play according to the American script.

The above is only speculation, but only someone who is very familiar with current Syrian and Russian air defence policy, doctrine, and training could really say for sure whether it reflects the situation as it existed there at that time. Keep in mind that the standard western views of the "proper" way to conduct air defence start from the assumption of complete control of the skies and so can't be relied upon to tell us how things look from the opposite perspective.
That's a more convincing analysis than mine.
Re. electronic warfare, the Russians appear to have a lot of EW equipment in Syria, including their most modern jamming equipment. Perhaps it's the case that, while not responding with force to the US/UK/Fr attacks, the Russians contributed to creating a hostile electronic environment for the coalition?
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Pic: a Krasuha-4 radar jammer in Latakia, 2016.
 
A fair point.
He has come back from what seemed the edge of defeat.
A couple of times now. Indirect Russian involvement, direct Russian involvement from September ‘15. He even ‘won’ in November ‘17 :)

Late ‘13/early ‘14 and about August ‘15 from memory were probably the closest to defeat he’s come. He’s easily the closest to ‘the final victory’ (whatever that looks like) now than he has been for years. Just a few ‘rebel’ ‘pockets’ and a fairly substantial area to the south before going north, north north east or east

The problem is as always is not just taking the ground but holding it (especially against those you say you have defeated). Palmyra again and allegedly kit taken:
E. Syria: for 1st time since months ISIS claims an attack on government barracks N. of T-3 Station (E. of Palmyra) with casualties, destruction of 122 mm gun and spoils captured. - Map of Syrian Civil War - Syria news today - syria.liveuamap.com
 
A couple of times now. Indirect Russian involvement, direct Russian involvement from September ‘15. He even ‘won’ in November ‘17 :)

Late ‘13/early ‘14 and about August ‘15 from memory were probably the closest to defeat he’s come. He’s easily the closest to ‘the final victory’ (whatever that looks like) now than he has been for years. Just a few ‘rebel’ ‘pockets’ and a fairly substantial area to the south before going north, north north east or east

The problem is as always is not just taking the ground but holding it (especially against those you say you have defeated). Palmyra again and allegedly kit taken:
E. Syria: for 1st time since months ISIS claims an attack on government barracks N. of T-3 Station (E. of Palmyra) with casualties, destruction of 122 mm gun and spoils captured. - Map of Syrian Civil War - Syria news today - syria.liveuamap.com
Not the same part of Syria of course but I note that Iraq has re-started operations in Syria (as mentioned in your earlier post). So much of Syria is uninhabited that it will be very hard to say the country is 100% in government hands. This is particularly the case when many former rebels are 'reconciled' and incorporated into the NDF and SAA. There was film from Ivan today of JaI fighters surrendering to the SAA in Qalamoun, quite friendly like, as it were. I can't recall a conflict like this for opponents saying 'Look, we made a mistake. Long live President Assad; where's our NDF uniform?'. There are, as you know, large areas controlled by reconciled former opponents of the regime and the extent of their reconciliation is open to question. That said, with the war heading for a regime victory in most of the country, reconciliation makes sense.


A translation of the video courtesy of Reddit users:

Cameraman: Here are the men, they were militants and have come here now to surrender.

Soon their whole group is gonna come to surrender. Coming from the mountain there, praise these men praise them.

Other SAA officer: Allah, Syria, Bashar and That's all (he's asking the JaI to recite that, the guy akwardly smiles not wanting to recite it)

Cameraman: You're gonna take a photo right Ali?

JaI sitting down: Look, the men ... (couldn't make out what he said here it sounds like he's worried that something may happen to the rest of the men on their way here)

Camerman: Brother, nothing will happen to them

Look this is his rifle, and with him was a motorcycle, wheres the motorcycle?

Here it is, this is their motorcycle. They were militants and came back to the nation. Now the rest are coming, about 100.

Abou-Ali you awaiting! Look they're coming

Who were they with?

Someone: Jaish el Islam

Meanwhile, there is more Twitter chatter about the S-300 being deployed to Syria. There is so much talk about this that it's either coordinated disinformation or is actually happening.


And

 
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That's a more convincing analysis than mine.
Re. electronic warfare, the Russians appear to have a lot of EW equipment in Syria, including their most modern jamming equipment. Perhaps it's the case that, while not responding with force to the US/UK/Fr attacks, the Russians contributed to creating a hostile electronic environment for the coalition?
View attachment 331584
Pic: a Krasuha-4 radar jammer in Latakia, 2016.
I suspect that the Russians are mainly listening rather than emitting. If they were doing a significant amount of active EW, I suspect the Americans would be complaining about it very loudly, and I can't recall having heard anything along those lines.
 
Not the same part of Syria of course but I note that Iraq has re-started operations in Syria (as mentioned in your earlier post). So much of Syria is uninhabited that it will be very hard to say the country is 100% in government hands. This is particularly the case when many former rebels are 'reconciled' and incorporated into the NDF and SAA.
I’m sure Lavrov or Peskov said he was in control of 90% of Syria :) The IS attack’s have been ongoing for a couple of months it seems. Palmyra as above and Deir el Zor.
There was film from Ivan today of JaI fighters surrendering to the SAA in Qalamoun, quite friendly like, as it were. I can't recall a conflict like this for opponents saying 'Look, we made a mistake. Long live President Assad; where's our NDF uniform?'. There are, as you know, large areas controlled by reconciled former opponents of the regime and the extent of their reconciliation is open to question. That said, with the war heading for a regime victory in most of the country, reconciliation makes sense.

Yep, seen that. It’s interesting in that this lot are reported as surrendering. The others went to Idlib. Would you really want them in your Army?
Meanwhile, there is more Twitter chatter about the S-300 being deployed to Syria. There is so much talk about this that it's either coordinated disinformation or is actually happening.


And

I’m sure it will be on RIA and other Russian outlets when it happens. It depends who you believe but the US brief talks about them firing blind and pretty much after the TLAMs, Storm Shadow, Fr cruise and JASSM-ERs were launched and/or struck and manned assets were on their way back.

Same with the Israeli attack on the Iranian drone comd wagon by Sy S-200s. It is reported as being lots fired and you only need one to hit, which on that occasion it did with the F16i. Fire off enough and ‘something’s got to hit’.

Syria’s reported to have the most in depth SAM system in the Middle East. Damascus being one of the most heavily defended locations. It was certainly briefed as such a few years ago and the Russians have updated their SA 5’s. SA10’s (mustn’t) Grumble being the next obvious step.

None of that will lead to UNSCR’s 2118 and 2254 being complied with though.
 
(...) So much of Syria is uninhabited that it will be very hard to say the country is 100% in government hands. (...)
There are different ways you can look at this. What counts from an economic perspective is how much of the economically productive population and industrial, commercial, and natural resources are held by whom, not how much colour what proportion of the map is. The far north and far south are important in terms of control of the border with Turkey and Jordan.

The Syrian government can operate an effective state with what they control now. No one else in Syria is in a position to say that, except perhaps the Kurds.

The main problem the outlying areas pose is as a region from which instability can irrupt into the settled territories. They pose the same threat to Iraq as well.

This is particularly the case when many former rebels are 'reconciled' and incorporated into the NDF and SAA. There was film from Ivan today of JaI fighters surrendering to the SAA in Qalamoun, quite friendly like, as it were. I can't recall a conflict like this for opponents saying 'Look, we made a mistake. Long live President Assad; where's our NDF uniform?'. There are, as you know, large areas controlled by reconciled former opponents of the regime and the extent of their reconciliation is open to question. That said, with the war heading for a regime victory in most of the country, reconciliation makes sense.
The region has been fought over by outside powers and changed hands many, many, times over the centuries and millennia. Their history of genuine independence is relatively short, and their modern borders were drawn in Europe. Many of the people there have feeling of loyalty which decreases rapidly with distance. They'll swear loyalty to whomever has power over them at that time, but it is a very shallow sort of loyalty.

This isn't unique to that part of the world. Parts of Canada which repeatedly passed between Britain and France over the course of a number of different wars had a similar attitude. Britain eventually "solved" this particular issue by simply expelling the population en masse and replacing them with new settlers. It's still a very delicate political issue here centuries later.

Meanwhile, there is more Twitter chatter about the S-300 being deployed to Syria. There is so much talk about this that it's either coordinated disinformation or is actually happening.
It's not necessarily a coordinated response. When you are dealing with Twitter you have to take into account that there is a lot of "me too" from people who don't actually know anything but don't want to appear as if they don't know because they don't want to lose their Twitter followers. They'll repeat rumours that they read in other Twitter accounts and then other people will repeat what they said in order to fill up a news void.

You could compare it to what in the newspaper business is known as "silly season". That is, there are certain times of the year, particularly mid summer, when the usual news-makers and celebrities are on vacation. Newspapers have column-inches to fill, and radio and TV have air time to fill, so a lot of doubtful stories get published to fill the void.

Twitter is like that, but even more so, and all year round.

All the same, S-300 being deployed to Syria wouldn't surprise me too much, as the Russians did say they were considering it in response to the recent missile attacks. If so, then they will announce it when and if they think it advantageous. I can think of reasons either way for announcing it or not announcing it.

I don't think that S-300 though can be a complete game changer no matter how good it may be.
 
Russia: U.S. strikes remove moral hurdles for S-300 missiles for...

From Reuters, quoting Lavrov (according to Russian state news agency) to the effect that:

1. Russia set out 'red lines' to US, which were not crossed in recent attacks;
2. Russia feels it no longer has a moral obligation to not supply S-300 to Syria.
Saw that re Lavrov’s comments. I was awaiting the actual ‘delivery’ bit tbh. Not that I don’t believe him on this occasion.

‘Red lines’ :) They have a ‘threshold’ and the US, UK and Fr came well under it. That’s what the ‘deconfliction line’ is all about.

Pity their ‘red lines’ don’t include stopping Assad’s govt (allegedly, but four confirmed uses by the JIM) using CW. In fact, if I took the JaI statement at face value, they appear to encourage it.

OPCW FFM still not on site and it’s a fortnight after the (alleged) CW attack.

Oh for unanimous UNSCR’s 2118 and 2254 ;)
 
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Insurgents south of Syrian capital surrender, says state TV
Usual caveats apply, it is SANA after all, but it looks like Yarmouk has fallen. As mentioned above, they'll be going to the IS controlled areas in eastern Syria:
A source familiar with negotiations between the insurgent groups there and the government told Reuters that some fighters from the enclave around Yarmouk refugee camp would be taken to eastern Syria, where Islamic State controls some territory and others to rebel areas in the northwest.

The reported move comes as President Bashar al-Assad accelerates his push to retake remaining enclaves and strengthen his position around the capital following the defeat of rebels in eastern Ghouta this month.
E2A: Berlin - Journalists visiting Syrian sites inspectors couldn't...
Does the German Foreign Ministry read Arrse?
It raises questions that Russian journalists have been able to visit sites in Syria that U.N. chemical weapons inspectors have not, a spokesman for the German Foreign Ministry said on Friday.

The United States said on Thursday it had credible information that Russia and Syria are trying to “sanitize” the site of a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria while also attempting to delay access by inspectors from the Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons.
E2AA: Russia says hard to know if Syria's borders will remain as they are...
Interesting. The question is, will Assad be happy with anything less than previous announcements to return the entire country to his control:
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Friday Russia did not know how the situation in Syria would evolve in terms of the country maintaining its territorial integrity, the Interfax news agency reported.

“We don’t know how the situation is going to develop on the question of whether it is possible to keep Syria as a single country,” the agency quoted Ryabkov as telling Germany’s Deutsche Welle broadcaster.
 
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Insurgents south of Syrian capital surrender, says state TV
Usual caveats apply, it is SANA after all, but it looks like Yarmouk has fallen. As mentioned above, they'll be going to the IS controlled areas in eastern Syria:


E2A: Berlin - Journalists visiting Syrian sites inspectors couldn't...
Does the German Foreign Ministry read Arrse?


E2AA: Russia says hard to know if Syria's borders will remain as they are...
Interesting. The question is, will Assad be happy with anything less than previous announcements to return the entire country to his control:
That last part is concerning? What is your view regarding what it refers to? Erdoğanistan? That's my concern - I can't see Turkey just upping and leaving.
 
If these were based on the same video that was posted here some time earlier, the point was that he was driving himself (I think it was a Honda Accord or something like that) into eastern Ghouta, which had been under the control of the rebels for years. Go back in this thread a ways and you will see videos where the army was having difficulty pushing tanks into the area. That is a huge difference and shows the turn around in the government's fortunes since then.
A fair point.
He has come back from what seemed the edge of defeat.
Only because of Iranian, Lebanese Hezbollah and Russian ground forces and considerable Russian air support.
I remember seeing reports a while back that the Syrian army had basically degenerated into a patchwork of militias. I can’t imagine that has changed much.
 
That last part is concerning? What is your view regarding what it refers to? Erdoğanistan? That's my concern - I can't see Turkey just upping and leaving.
You mean the person who ran a referendum to increase the powers of the President but only to come into place when the next Presidential elections have taken place and have now been moved forward? Turkey is the junior partner in Astana.

SAA and allies have already been attacking Idlib which is 'monitored' as one of the 'de-escalation' zones. Assad sent in some militias to support the YPG in Afrin but they still lost. If Assad wants Turkey out, they will go albeit with lots of huffing and puffing as he won't upset Russia. He will push for a Syria Turkmenistan of sorts. Whether he gets it and whether Assad wants it are separate matters.

Same with the SDF becoming the BSF. Whether Assad and Iran are happy with that? Would he, Iran and most of all Turkey be happy with some Kurdish autonomy?

There's probably a way to go before either of those two become the next ones on 'ze list'. I still believe he'll clear up most of the 'pockets' and move those willing to either Idlib or wherever else eg IS controlled areas. It's then whether he says he'll go for UNSCR 2254 or remove Idlib and then go for it (2254) or 'inadvertently' get himself tangled up with either Tr sponsored FSA or SDF. I can't see it being the latter whilst the coalition are still there.

Bottom line is Assad has said he wants to regain control of the whole country. Will he settle for anything less?
 

TheIronDuke

ADC
Book Reviewer
Interesting and informative stuff here. If you will allow a question from the cheap seats?

Russia has showed itself adept at online media manipulation for which we in the west have limited response because our Governments cannot lie (yeah, I know. But you know what I mean?)

If it came to a proper rammy in Syria and the outcome was predicted in part on EW.... who would win? Russia or US / UK / Allies?

"No idea because it has not happened you daft git" is an acceptable response.
 
Interesting and informative stuff here. If you will allow a question from the cheap seats?

Russia has showed itself adept at online media manipulation for which we in the west have limited response because our Governments cannot lie (yeah, I know. But you know what I mean?)

If it came to a proper rammy in Syria and the outcome was predicted in part on EW.... who would win? Russia or US / UK / Allies?

"No idea because it has not happened you daft git" is an acceptable response.
I defer to @scalieback and @terminal as I am also in the cheap seats but, as the latter mentioned yesterday, Russia approaches the issue of ground defence against aircraft, and EW, from the assumption that peer opponents will likely have air superiority. Therefore, they invest heavily in those areas, in particular in developing an integrated, multi layer air defence network. If Syria gets the S-300 AND the radar and command systems to tie all layers of their system together, they could have a capable system even without Russia being an active player.
I don't know who would win but, facing such a system, we would be losing aircraft, or launching missiles that might not reach their intended target. I say this because Russia has, and is, putting billions into surface to air capability. It's also generating income from overseas sales, in large part due to their being few competitors systems.
 
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Interesting and informative stuff here. If you will allow a question from the cheap seats?

Russia has showed itself adept at online media manipulation for which we in the west have limited response because our Governments cannot lie (yeah, I know. But you know what I mean?)

If it came to a proper rammy in Syria and the outcome was predicted in part on EW.... who would win? Russia or US / UK / Allies?

"No idea because it has not happened you daft git" is an acceptable response.
US military are beating themselves up over the EW gap. Having said that, Russia is not the USSR.
Army Cyber Accelerates; Electronic Warfare Lags
 

TheIronDuke

ADC
Book Reviewer
US military are beating themselves up over the EW gap. Having said that, Russia is not the USSR.
Army Cyber Accelerates; Electronic Warfare Lags
"While effective in the current fight against Daesh (aka ISIL), this unbalanced force would be at a severe disadvantage in future Multi-Domain Battles the Army envisions against a sophisticated adversary such as Russia, which excels in both cyber and electronic warfare. "

Thats what I thought. Note to self. 'Extend the cellars'.
 

TheIronDuke

ADC
Book Reviewer
A major problem is I think that western countries will be very risk averse with respect to losses of aircraft,
Everybody is averse to loss of aircraft. They are very expensive and they have people in them.

My question is about EW. In the latest spat in Syria, Russia did not go after our aircraft. Fair enough, they did not encroach upon Syrian airspace and it would appear Syrian air defence kicked in after the flying telegraph poles had hit their targets.

But in the event of a proper knife fight in the air (God forbid) how does our EW capability stack up against the Evil Empire? Marks out of ten will do.
 

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