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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has been vicious in his use of air power against his opposition. That is the principal reason the death toll has been so high, counting more than 65,000 Syrian dead since 15 March 2011, the start of the uprising.

Almost from the beginning he was quick to use his attack helicopters against protesters and he has continuously escalated to the point that now he is dropping cluster bombs and incendiaries on opposition neighborhoods. Ever since the first Friday of "The No-Fly Zone" on 28 October 2011, the Syria people have demanded that a Libya type "No Fly Zone" be established to protect them from Assad's "Death from Above."

This has been denied them and the cost has been enormous in terms of human lives. President Barack Obama has been the most adamant of all the NATO leaders in denying the Syrian people a "No-Fly Zone" or the Syrian opposition any military support.

But Obama has taken it one step further, he has made it the business of the United States to see that the Syrian opposition received few heavy weapons from its supporters. Most especially, he has used our country's clout to "veto" precisely the weapon that the Syrian opposition has needed and demanded the most, MANPADS.

MANPADS are portable anti-aircraft missiles and everyone has known all along that they would be a game changer in Syria, as they have already proven to be in recent months since Assad's opposition, against Obama's best efforts, has managed to get their hands on them.

Bashar Assad has been able to slaughter his own people so easily from the air only because they lacked effective modern weapons with which to shoot down his aircraft. The lack of these weapons has probably allowed Assad to hang on for a year longer than he could have otherwise and cost the Syrian people, on both sides of this conflict, more than 50,000 unnecessary deaths.

Obama's "No MANPADS for You!" policy has had a very high price in Syrian blood. His stated reason for denying the Syrian opposition MANPADS has been his fear that they would fall into the hands of Islamic extremists.

Below the fold I will show how Obama's "No MANPADS for You!" policy with regards to the Free Syrian Army, has not only allowed Assad to hang on and extend this conflict into a third year, undoubtedly costing tens of thousands of Syrian lives, but also has had the unintended consequence of accomplishing precisely what Obama was seeking to avoid.

Now, as a result of Obama;s "No MANPADS for You!" policy, Islamic extremists in Syria are acquiring more MANPADS every week.

The Guardian wrote about these questions on 28 Nov 2012, more than a month ago when MANPADS first started showing up on the Syrian Battle field:

Just as the clamour for supplying the Syrian opposition with sophisticated new weapons looked to be reaching a tipping point in the Gulf and the west, the rebels have clearly got hold of some arms of their own.

A video of a government gunship being brought down by a missile outside Aleppo, a first for the rebels, emerged at the same time as European diplomats agreed to change the terms of the EU arms embargo on Syria. From Saturday, it will be rolled over for only three months, signalling to President Bashar al-Assad that weapons deliveries to the rebels could start at short notice if the aerial bombardment of rebel-held areas continues.

"This sends a strong message to the regime that all options remain on the table and makes clear the need for real change. The regime's indiscriminate use of violence against their people will not be ignored,"
a Foreign Office spokesman said.

The warning came as the rebels' principal backers, in the Gulf, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have been chafing ever more loudly against the US veto on supplies of sophisticated, potentially decisive weapons such as shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles (widely known as Manpads – an acronym for man-portable air-defence systems) to the rebels.

The US veto was motivated principally by the fear of such a weapon falling into the hands of a jihadist group that would then use it to bring down a civilian airliner, as al-Qaida tried to do with an Israeli plane in Mombasa in December 2002. Some in the Gulf states have argued that there are precautions that could be taken against such proliferation. But until now, they have stuck by the ban.

"We did this as a favour to Obama," a Gulf source said. "But now Obama has been re-elected, there is a question of whether we should still be bound by such an undertaking." Shoulder-launched missiles could be bought in Pakistan or in Africa, the source added.

So far, there is no evidence that any of the ground-to-air missiles used to date have come from outside Syria, according to Peter Bouckaert. Emergencies director for Human Rights Watch. (emphasis added by me)

In the sub-title to this article, the Guardian say that access to MANPADS by the opposition "could mark a turning point in the conflict."

While the danger of these weapons falling into the hands of terrorists is real, over 900 civilians have been killed with them since 1970, it was and is a real problem with regards to Libya and anywhere else they have been distributed like Afghanistan in the '80.

Against that possible negative outcome, this also must be considered:

More than 55,000 people have been killed in Syria in the past year. They are now beiung slaughtered at the rate of 5,000 a month. Many, if not the great majority have been killed by Assad from the air. In addition, his continued domination of the air has been most important in enabling the continued existence of his regime and thus all the killing he is doing and as well as the lives taken by the people trying to defend themselves from Assad's assaults.

Therefore I conclude that Obama's veto over these defensive weapons has cost tens of thousands of lives and has played a key role in allowing Assad to stay in power this long.

From the beginning, Obama has been reluctant to demand Assad's removal. What has been most important to Obama is that:

Syria is at the center of most every tacit alliance/agreement/understanding that keeps the Middle East from descending into complete chaos.
As a commenter to an earlier diary put it. By Syria, he means Assad. These are agreements made with Assad, not with "Syria."

I think the reasoning goes like this: So what if he's a murdering bastard to his own people? The US has a long history of working with and even supporting such "leaders", what's really important is (for Israel's sake especially) that he is key to preserving the "stability" of the region.

Russia supports Obama's stand, I'll bet Assad does too. After Obama's inaugural address Michel Martin of NPR titled her piece "Did Syrian President 'Rejoice' In Obama's Speech?"

You don't have to be a rocket scentist to figure out why Russian and Syria so strongly support Obama's "No MANPADS for You!" policy. RIA Novosti reports:

“We are calling on all countries to stop feeding illegal armed formations in Syria, do everything possible to prevent MANPADS from getting into the hands of those whose actions are impossible to control, especially with account for militants’ threats to shoot down civil aircraft,” the Russian diplomat said.
Most likely the "militants" who threaten to shoot down civilian air crafts with MANPADS the FSA has been trying to get, work for Assad. That's how this game is played.

And we now know why Russia's opposition is only to "illegal" weapons going to Syria. They have been been supplying Russian cluster bombs to Assad. They wouldn't want anything to get in the way of their delivery to the targets.

Obama's argument that MANPADS shouldn't be supplied to the Syrian opposition in this critical struggle out of fear that they may eventually end up on the black market is undermined by the fact that thousands of MANPADS are already on the black market.

The cynic will say "So, what?" Even if there are thousands of MANPADS on the black market, why risk adding fuel to that fire? The answer is simply because there use, in the hands of those being bombed by Assad, can save thousands of lives now.

According to Al Arabiya:

Following the fall of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, some intelligence experts estimated that as many as 10,000-15,000 MANPADs sets were looted from Libyan government stockpiles. The whereabouts of most of these are unknown.
The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point suggests other sources of wild MANPADS:
Some reports suggest that missiles stolen from Libyan arsenals have spread as far as Niger, the Gaza Strip, and the Sinai Peninsula. In addition to AQIM, al-Shabab has been known to possess advanced MANPADS, allegedly provided by Eritrea.[7] Given that AQAP maintains ties to al-Shabab and has reportedly taken over multiple military depots in Yemen following the outbreak of civil unrest there,[8] it is not implausible to assume that AQAP could acquire additional MANPADS. There are also reports that the Taliban acquired MANPADS from Iran,[9] making it conceivable that elements of the group sympathetic to al-Qa`ida’s aims could provide al-Qa`ida with MANPADS for a future attack.
A May 2012 Stratfor report gives us more background about these MANPADS in the wild as well as some information on the danger they hold for civilian aircraft:
While we have not yet seen reports of the Tuaregs using these missiles, reports of close interaction between the Tuaregs in northern Mali and regional jihadist franchise al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) raise concern that AQIM could buy or somehow acquire them from the Tuaregs. We have seen unconfirmed reports of AQIM fighters possessing MANPADS, and Algerian authorities have seized MANPADS among the weapons being smuggled into the country from Libya. For example, in mid-February, Algerian authorities seized 15 SA-24 and 28 SA-7 Russian-made MANPADS at a location in the southern desert called In Amenas.
....
The SA-7 has a kill zone with an upper limit of 1,300 meters, while some newer models can reach altitudes of more than 3,658 meters. The average range of MANPADS is 4.8 kilometers (about 3 miles). This means that most large commercial aircraft, which generally cruise at around 9,140 meters, are out of the range of MANPADS, but the weapon can be employed against them effectively during the extremely vulnerable takeoff and landing portions of a flight or when they are operating at lower altitudes.
If that many MANPADS are already "in the wild" so-to-speak, then denying them to Syrian's that are being bombed daily by Assad on the grounds that those might eventually add to the thousands on MANPADS already on the black market, makes about as much sense as denying patients medical marijuana on the ground that some of it may end up on the street, or denying my grandfather a rifle to defend his family from KKK attacks on the grounds that it may eventually end up in criminal hands.
Unintended Consequence of Obama's policy "MANPADS for jihadists!"

Obama's "No MANPADS for you" policy has played a critical role in continuing this conflict and allowing Assad to stay in power but Obama's policy of denying MANPADS to the FSA is actually resulting in the very thing the claimed to be trying to avoid, namely MANPADS in the hands of jihadists.

By denying MANPADS to the FSA, Obama has caused this war to go on much longer than likely would be the case otherwise, this plus a lack of western military support has allowed jihadist such as al Nursa to come to the fore and grow. Because they have superior weapons and tactics as compared to the more secular FSA fighters, they have been able to have an influence over the development of the Syrian revolution that far outweighs their numbers or their support among the Syrian people. This is not good.  

These jihadist have been in the forefront of the fighting and taking one of Assad's bases after another. This is having a snowball effect because every time the al Nursa or the other jihadists seize another of Assad's bases, they raid the armory and become even better armed. This in turn, allows them to have even more influence, recruit even more soldiers and seize still more bases.

So now these groups are taking Assad's bases and these groups are getting MANPADS, Assad's MANPADS, as we have seen on the battle field.

So the unintended consequence of Obama's "No MANPADS for you" policy is that the jihadist end up with the MANPADS and increased influence in the Syrian revolution because they can defend the children with them, while the secular FSA doesn't have them and can't.

Click here for a list of my other Daily Kos dairies on Syria
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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (0+ / 0-)

    Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

    by Clay Claiborne on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 12:00:07 PM PST

  •  This is not our business (7+ / 0-)

    We are not the policemen of the world.

  •  I'm trying to follow the argument here... (10+ / 0-)

    because some of these weapons can be obtained on the black market, the US should go ahead and hand over thousands more?

    No thanks.

    In the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope.

    by Cixelsyd on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 12:14:14 PM PST

  •  We are seeing a proxy war going on here (9+ / 0-)

    with the Saudis and their allies on one side and the Iranians and their allies on the other with AQIM and other bin Laden franchises looking to profit from the resulting chaos to advance their own goals, which can be quite varied from group to group

    •  And the Kurds (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      InAntalya, entlord, Rusty Pipes, native, vcmvo2

      And the folks who live in the country and just want freedom.  More arms for more people isn't going to help matters at all.  Look where it got Afghanistan.

    •  We are seeing a war by Syrians to overthrow the (0+ / 0-)

      Assad regime.

      Your description of the conflict leave out the people who started it, have prosecuted it, are dying to accomplish it, and will win.

      Yes, every world power, including the US, wants to know what's in it for them, but this is no proxy war.

      Those were Syrians who started the protests and Syrians who started the FSA.

      Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

      by Clay Claiborne on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 03:39:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  What have you been smoking? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Eyesbright, protectspice, kefauver
      •  then we agree to disagree (6+ / 0-)

        because not to see this as a proxy war but as a purely binary conflict sets us up to repeat all of our mistakes in the ME since WWII

        •  I didn't say "purely" (0+ / 0-)

          Don't put words in my mouth to make my arguments easy to defeat.

          I said the Syrian revolutionary war (war to overthrow the government by the governed) was mainly a binary conflict.

          I acknowledge the role of other players, you don't even mention, let alone acknowledge, the central role of the Syrians.

          Definition of PROXY
          1
          : the agency, function, or office of a deputy who acts as a substitute for another
          That is why you don't acknowledge the Syria opposition in its own light. You are pushing Assad's propaganda that their is no legitimacy to his Syrian opposition because they are all agents of foreign powers.

          This type of thinking is how people come to accept holocausts and even support them.

          The Vietnamese were just proxies for the Russians and Chinese, so what if we killed 3 million. They were just "proxies" not real people.

          Now it's so what if 60,000 proxies were killed in Syria, they weren't "Americans."

          Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

          by Clay Claiborne on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 06:08:23 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I think you are putting words into my mouth (10+ / 0-)

            but if you wish to argue VN, I would be happy to discuss in some detail how Ho's indigenous revolution against the Japanese and then the French evolved into a type of proxy war between the US and China and USSR.  Just because something starts as a native revolution ( Mao and Ho both sought US support before they became Soviet clients), does not mean it cannot transform into a proxy conflict.

            The reason I did not list all the players is that new ones emerge weekly it seems and a simple comment is not the place to argue the complexity of a very complex situation.  For that matter there is still dispute as to the composition of the rebel forces themselves

               

  •  I'm so so sorry ... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jasan, xsonogall, AoT, Eyesbright, kefauver

    ... I know this is an important issue and not one to be treated lightly ...

    ... but I can't take the term "MANPADS" seriously.  It sounds like somebody's sarcastic term for a male hygiene product.

    * hides face in shame *

  •  No MANPADS (0+ / 0-)

    Not just for the Syria opposition but for anyone.

  •  The Syrians can sort this out (4+ / 0-)

    on their own.  Obama is doing the right thing by staying out with the shoulder fired stuff.   We so do not need one of those knocking a 787 out of the sky now do we?

    •  Indeed, the Syrians can (and are) (0+ / 0-)

      sorting this out for themselves. But don't you think it would have been better if they'd been able to do it with fewer than 60 000 deaths?
      And is the west going to take responsibility for the problems that may erupt post-Asad because they have allowed external assistance to flow predominantly  to jihadist forces.

  •  I've looked all over the map of the US (4+ / 0-)

    and I can't find Syria!

  •  Anti tank weapons smuggled into Syria shown (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rusty Pipes

    None of these are used by the Syrian army so they could not have been obtained from raids. They all originate from the former Yugoslavia.

    - M79 Osa anti-tank weapon
    - RPG-22 one-shot disposable anti-tank weapon
    - M60 Recoilless Gun
    - Milkor MGL 40mm grenade launcher

    You can view video of very large numbers of these seized by Syrian forces as well as videos of rebels forces using them in the field that proves that at least one large shipment got through. These weapons are a large step up from the old RPG-7.

    http://brown-moses.blogspot.ca/...
    Evidence Of Multiple Foreign Weapon Systems Smuggled To The Syrian Opposition In Daraa
  •  seems doubtful to me (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Quicklund
    More than 55,000 people have been killed in Syria in the past year. They are now being slaughtered at the rate of 5,000 a month. Many, if not the great majority have been killed by Assad from the air.
    I wouldn't consider killings by militias using machine guns and grenades and artillery/rocket shellings as being "from the air".  Once those are subtracted, do those killed from aircraft really amount to a significant proportion?

    The largest such attack I'm aware of is the one on the university in Aleppo.  That was essentially done for strategic political purposes- frightening the rebel support base- and the means by it was done were incidental.

    In addition, his continued domination of the air has been most important in enabling the continued existence of his regime and thus all the killing he is doing and as well as the lives taken by the people trying to defend themselves from Assad's assaults.
    This is so vague it's hard to counter specifically.  I don't think any crucial supply ferrying is being done by air for the regime.  It's doubtful the regime gets significant or useful information from air reconnaissance that it doesn't get from its soldiers and loyalists on the ground.  The ground attacks by regime airplanes do damage and hamper FSA forces, but the FSA doesn't point to any particular offensive as critically affected by air attacks.  It wouldn't have take over the air base at Taftanaz if regime airplanes were effective against its siege force.  Its forces seem much more effectively repulsed and hampered and hemmed in by regime tanks and artillery/rocketry and assaults with RPGs.

    The one area you may be right in being crucial is Assad's supposed keeping control of Damascus by being able to come to and go from his forces there quickly by air from Latakia.  You'd think the rebels would track those flights down and find a way to make them impossible with conventional weapons, though.

    My counterproposal is that the sides in Syria no longer regard this fight as primarily about the regime anymore.  This could be mostly about the reign of terror of many decades by the Alawite elites and their collaborators, with many average Syrians out to retaliate against and others out to defend the perps, henchmen, etc.  In that sense it may be a true civil war now, with attained vengeance the popular measure of progress and attrition of the hated Other more important to the fighters than strategic gains.

    •  Assad main tactic to win this war is (0+ / 0-)

      an awful sort of pain compliance.

      He is not mainly targeting the FSA and other opposition fighters. Just like the US in Vietnam, the fundamental strategy is to kill enough people so that they give up their liberation struggle.

      Only that doesn't work, people don't give up. They are crazy like that.

      The US slaughtered 3 million in Vietnam, civilian mainly, but still they didn't give up.

      The question is: How many will Assad be allowed to killed before he learns the same lesson.

      The opposition fighters have been focused on taking air bases precisely because Assad's air attack have been so devastating to the civilian population.

      Civilian Deaths Increase from Syrian Air Strikes – Donatella Rovera

      I was investigating bombardments and shelling in civilian areas, which over the last month and a half have caused a dramatic increase in the number of civilian casualties. There has been a real game changer, since the end of July, government forces have withdrawn from most of the northern areas and there have been essentially striking from far with air bombardments and artillery mortar shelling using what are battlefield weapons which are of very little use for hitting military targets because they are aerial weapons… They cannot be aimed at specific targets. They have a far too wide impact radius and so they fall rather randomly over people’s homes, streets, over markets and so on.

      On hiding during attacks

      Sometimes the planes don’t strike immediately. They hover around areas or they sort of go and come back. Sometimes they go and come back because they strike a nearby village so as soon as planes are seen or heard in the sky, people run for cover. Not always successfully because I’ve seen specific cases where people were killed while they were running. I looked at a case where a woman and her two-year-old boy ran out of their home to go two buildings down the road because there was a basement there. Just as they got out of the front door, the plane struck and they were both killed.

      AI also issued a report:
      Syria: New evidence – High civilian death toll from campaign of indiscriminate attacks

      Civilians, many of them children, are the main victims of a campaign of relentless and indiscriminate attacks by the Syrian army, Amnesty International said in a new briefing.

      The briefing paper (and accompanying video footage) is based on first-hand field investigations carried out in the first half of September by Amnesty International into attacks which killed 166 civilians, including 48 children and 20 women, and injured hundreds in 26 towns and villages in the Idlib, Jabal al-Zawiya and north Hama regions.

      The briefing paper provides fresh evidence of a pattern which has emerged in recent weeks in areas where government forces, pushed into retreat by opposition forces, are now indiscriminately bombing and shelling lost territory – with disastrous consequences for the civilian population.

      Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

      by Clay Claiborne on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 04:05:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That was back in September, (0+ / 0-)

        It is much worst now.

        Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

        by Clay Claiborne on Tue Jan 29, 2013 at 04:06:03 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  All that may be true (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Claudius Bombarnac, Eyesbright

          and probably is.  It doesn't mean that the rebels having better anti-aircraft weaponry will necessarily change much, unfortunately.

          •  Actually most of the damage has been from (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            protectspice, Rusty Pipes

            artillery, grad rockets and mortars - all of which the rebels are getting more and more of.

            http://www.liveleak.com/...

            Syria - Rebel spoils.

            There are hundred's of videos showing their use by the rebels inside cities and towns.
            The killing of civilians by aerial bombardment has also occurred at the hands of the rebels.

            This from last September:

            Mortar fire rocks Aleppo as US promises more aid

            Rebels attacked government troops with mortar fire in the Syrian city of Aleppo on Friday, in an attack “unprecedented” in its intensity, as the US revealed it will provide an extra $45 million for humanitarian aid and the civilian opposition.

            Rebels unleashed barrages of mortar fire against troops in the city of Aleppo Friday, residents said, as Washington unveiled new funding for humanitarian aid and the civilian opposition.

            Residents of neighbourhoods previously spared the worst of the two-month-old battle for the northern city of Aleppo, Syria's commercial capital, told AFP the violence was unprecedented.

            "The sound from the fighting...has been non-stop," said a resident of the central district of Sulamaniyeh, who identified himself as Ziad.

            "Everyone is terrified. I have never heard anything like this before."
            ...

            •  Oh, we're back to Wondersyria again are we? (0+ / 0-)

              that land where the regime never shells anyone, there are no Syrian airforce jets bombing the cities (and universities), and the rebels miraculously "get" weapons - not capture them from regime stockpiles.
              Just too bad the people of Syria can't join you there!

              •  Do you ever actually read posts or do you have (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Rusty Pipes

                a comprehension problem? Let's go over my post item by item:

                the regime never shells anyone
                I didn't say any such thing. Here's what I said "The killing of civilians by aerial bombardment has also occurred at the hands of the rebels."

                Notice the word 'also' in there. That implies the devastation and killing by 'bombing' has been done by both sides in this conflict. I then proceded to give a link form the news agency, France24, to back up my statement. BTW, I notice you rarely back up any of your statements with anything.

                the rebels miraculously "get" weapons - not capture them from regime stockpiles.
                There are hundreds of links showing the looting of military installations. I'll repeat the links for you which shows the rebels have large mortars and are using them in an urban environment. It was the rebels who brought the fighting into the city and put civilians at risk. Hiding amongst the civilian population is SOP in asymmetric warfare and is why these types of conflicts are so devastating for civilians.
                http://www.liveleak.com/...
                Syria - Rebel spoils.
                Mortar fire rocks Aleppo as US promises more aid

                Rebels unleashed barrages of mortar fire against troops in the city of Aleppo Friday, residents said, as Washington unveiled new funding for humanitarian aid and the civilian opposition.

                Residents of neighbourhoods previously spared the worst of the two-month-old battle for the northern city of Aleppo, Syria's commercial capital, told AFP the violence was unprecedented.

                "The sound from the fighting...has been non-stop," said a resident of the central district of Sulamaniyeh, who identified himself as Ziad.

                "Everyone is terrified. I have never heard anything like this before."

                I notice when you don't have a reasoned response you resort to a straw-man argument or an ad hominem attack as does Claiborne.

                Can you see how stupid your arguments are now?

  •  Do you really think the US is controlling what (0+ / 0-)

    is smuggled into Syria? Or what is looted? There are thousands of entry points over thousands of kilometers. The only control the US would have is through the State Department to other countries or connections the CIA has with black marketers.

    BTW, the CIA is already buying them up within the MENA region by offering very high prices. The smugglers don't give a damn where they go as long as they get paid.

    http://brown-moses.blogspot.ca/...
    More Information On The Equipment Looted From Taftanaz Air Base

    The S-5KO and S-5KP are both types of rockets for the previously shown UB-16-57UMP rocket pods, and the V-5K and V-5KM1 are fuzes for S-5 rockets, more details of which can be found here.  While it's hard to know how up to date the warehouse stock list is does seem to indicate that the piles of crates in that warehouse do still contains various types of S-5 rockets, maybe thousands of them, so I fully expect members of Ahrar al-Sha, Jabhat al-Nusra, and other groups involved with the attack to be welding rocket pods to the back of truck and using them as artillery in the future.

    http://brown-moses.blogspot.ca/...
    Rare Video Shows A Surface-To-Air Missile Fired By The Syrian Opposition

    Recently a new Youtube channel has been created for a group calling themselves the Martyr Issam Saleh Air Defense Battalion, part of the Farouq Brigade, one of the major armed groups in Syria.  What's very interesting about this channel is the amount of MANPADS (Man Portable Air Defense Systems) on display

    https://www.youtube.com/..._
    MANPAD sightings in Syria
  •  Interesting news this morning... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Quicklund, Claudius Bombarnac

    as Mouaz al-Khatib has announced (series of tweets starting here) his conditional willingness to meet in Cairo with officials of the Syrian regime.

    Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time. (Terry Pratchett)

    by angry marmot on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 06:33:51 AM PST

    •  If I'm decoding my Google translate correctly (0+ / 0-)

      This is a response to Asad's claim that he was prepared to open a dialogue (with someone or other). This seems to be born out by the press reports: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/...

      Its always a tricky business how to respond in a situation like this: on the one hand you don't want to give credence to what is clearly an empty gesture by Asad; on the other hand there might be a real opportunity to open up splits in the regime by entering into talks. If the Syrian Coalition was a more coherent entity, and if Khatib a more experience political operator, I would say - go for it. As it is, I doubt that there's much to lose by holding talks - the Coalition has no real influence over the fighters on the ground, so it could sell its soul to Asad and nobody in Aleppo would pay any attention anyway.  Interesting to see how the west responds (or even if they had a role in this move.) Its possible that the west wants to stitch up a deal with Asad and then try to demonize those in Syria who raise objections. But they've left it too late for that game - they have no leverageon the ground; :and  if they were not prepared to intervene against Asad, its unlikely that they will intervene on his behalf (or whoever he might be persuaded to pass the regime baton on to.)

  •  Snapshot of life in Syria under al-Nusra control (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rusty Pipes
    http://in.reuters.com/...
    Eastern Syrian town lives under al Qaeda rules

    (Reuters) - In a small town in Syria's east, Islamist militants have taken unclothed mannequins they see as sexually enticing out of the shops.

    Members of the al-Nusra Front, al Qaeda's Syria affiliate, have also prevented women from wearing trousers, preferring that they adopt the shapeless head-to-toe black veil.

    The town of 54,000 on the Euphrates river offers a snapshot of what life could be like if Islamist rebels take control of significant areas of Syria as President Bashar al-Assad loses further ground.
    ...
    Government forces left the town in November and half its inhabitants fled during the fighting.

    Now al-Nusra, the Free Syrian Army, local militia and tribal groups have carved the town into fiefdoms. Residents say there are around 8,000 armed men in total.

    Insurgents with long Sunni-Muslim-style beards patrol the streets enforcing a strict interpretation of Islam. Alcohol is removed from shops. Daily religious teaching is provided for Mayadin's children, who get free loaves of bread if they attend.

    One young boy who attends these classes told Reuters that pupils are taught about praying, the role of women, the place of polygamy in marriage and jihad against "Assad's Alawite regime."
    ...

  •  This is exactly why Obama doesn't want MANPADS (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rusty Pipes

    flowing unrestricted into Syria. Unlike SA-17's, MANPADS are very small and can be MUCH more readily smuggled by militant Islamists.

    This attack by  Israel on Syrian territory is going to unpredictably change the nature of the conflict.

    http://news.nationalpost.com/...
    Israeli airstrike hits truck convoy in Syria that may contain weapons bound for Hezbollah in Lebanon

    BEIRUT — Israel conducted an airstrike inside Syria overnight near the border with Lebanon, hitting a convoy of trucks, U.S. and regional officials said Wednesday.

    The regional officials said Israel had been planning in the days leading up to the airstrike to hit a shipment of weapons bound for the Islamist militant group Hezbollah in Lebanon. They said the shipment included sophisticated, Russian-made SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles, which would be strategically “game-changing” in the hands of Hezbollah.

    •  You've lost me Claudius (0+ / 0-)

      Obama doesn't want MANPADs because Israel doesn't want SA-17s? SA-17s are "game changing" so MANPADs arent't. Presumably they're just life saving, when your people are being bombed indiscriminately. But who cares about that when you have to make sure North Americans can sleep peacefully.

      •  You should know that the US wants what Israel (0+ / 0-)

        wants in the ME.

        Obama doesn't want MANPADs because Israel doesn't want SA-17s?
        Yep. If Israel doesn't want surface-to-air missiles in the region then the US also doesn't want them. You can be absolutely sure that Israeli interests will come first and foremost in any American response to the Syrian conflict.
        SA-17s are "game changing" so MANPADs arent't.
        Where did you get that from? They're both "game changing" missiles designed to shoot down airplanes. You should know by now the "game" is fixed when it comes to international power plays. One man's freedom fighter is another's terrorist.

        Your problem is that you are attempting to place me on one side or the other in this conflict. I detest ALL sides - the militarized rebels, the Assad regime and the foreign countries fomenting more strife and conflict by supplying weapons and money. Unfortunately it is the innocent people caught between the two that are hurting the most while the country is being dismantled and knocked back to the stone age.

        Here's an interesting article on al-Nusra tactics.

        Jabhat al-Nusra's Goals Extend Beyond Syria
        At the end of December, in an unprecedented move, Abu Muhammad al-Julani, the leader of Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria, addressed "the people of Syria and the mujahedeen."

         The speech suggested that the militant front has become the main force in the fight against the Syrian regime, with no mention of the Free Syrian Army (FSA). Instead, the Islamist group's leader replaced the term "FSA" with "the brigades and militant groups."

        The speech came in response to the United States designation of Jabhat al-Nusra as a foreign terrorist organization. But it seemed obvious that Julani was speaking from a strong position, warning that "those who sowed the seeds of the revolution will be the ones to reap its fruits." He also warned his supporters and the people of Syria against attempts to replace the Syrian regime with a Western one.
        ...
         The third pillar of the al-Qaeda strategy in Syria is the principle of "prolonging the conflict." This is based primarily on rejecting any consensus over a political solution, such as that put forward by UN Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi. Accordingly, a series of enemies are being promoted, including the "Alawite regime" and the "Zionist enemy," in addition to whatever form of rule might replace the Assad regime.

        Continuation of the conflict

        Interestingly, al-Qaeda is very confident that Washington will remain reluctant to intervene. Jabhat al-Nusra leader Julani accused the US and the international community of "prolonging the reign of the Syrian regime," although this is exactly what the group wants. The scene has become multi-faceted. Just as the Americans rely on the Russian rejection of a UN resolution that would authorize military intervention, Jabhat al-Nusra also feeds on US hesitation to supply weapons to the Syrians. Washington is speaking morally on the back of Moscow, and al-Qaeda is expanding popularly on the back of Washington.

        During my meeting with one of the leaders of Jabhat al-Nusra in an Aleppo suburb, we discussed the FSA's lack of arms and munitions. This leader thought that this is the best thing currently happening, because it will put Syria back into the hands of God. But this will not happen before the rebels discover that the West has deceived them for over a year.
        ...

    •  "regional officials" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Claudius Bombarnac, protectspice

      almost as reliable a source as what Robert Fisk calls UMIS - unidentified military intelligence sources.

      It isn't nice to go to jail ... but if that's freedom's price

      by Rusty Pipes on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 12:08:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Israel airstrike against Syrian military base (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    protectspice

    This makes two air attacks by Israel against Syria. This has the potential to inflame the region even more.

    Syria says Israeli warplanes hit military site
    The Associated Press Posted: Jan 30, 2013

    Syrian state TV has confirmed that Israeli warplanes bombed a military research centre northwest of the capital, Damascus.

    U.S. and regional security officials reported the strike Wednesday but did not say where it took place.

    State TV says the strike targeted a military research centre in the area of Jermana.

    It says the strike caused material damage and the centre was used to advance Syrian military capabilities.

    •  All the pro-Assad tweets are really (0+ / 0-)

      promoting this story about an Israeli airstrike against Syrian military base, which has only been reported by the Assad regime that also claims that every death is the result of "terrorist gangs" and they never did nothing to nobody.



      So I'm not surprised that you are spouting it here.

      What makes sense is that Israel struck a convoy as everyone else is saying.

      Israel knows that a strike by them against Syria would be a big propaganda boon for Assad, that's why they have stayed out of it.

      Assad (and you) are spinning this to maximize the propaganda value.

      But you are the only one saying their have been 2 air attacks by Israel. Even Assad doesn't claim that.

      BEIRUT (Reuters) - Israeli warplanes attacked a military research center in Damascus province at dawn on Wednesday, Syria's military command said, denying reports that the planes had struck a convoy carrying weapons from Syria to Lebanon.

      Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

      by Clay Claiborne on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 12:38:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Take it up with the media. I'm just the messenger (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Rusty Pipes

        You know the Israeli military neither confirms nor denies most of it's covert operations - just as the US does with it's covert operations.

        Tweets are the least reliable sources of information as you have shown in your many diaries that have turned out to be false or misleading.

        http://www.israelnationalnews.com/...

        Syria: IAF Struck Military Research Center Near Damascus

        The United States declined to comment on the reported strike by Israel, whose military intelligence chief Aviv Kochavi is currently in Washington for talks with top US general Martin Dempsey.

        "I'd refer you to the government of Israel for questions about deliberations or actions that they may or may not have taken," White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

        Earlier reports said that Israel had struck a convoy carrying Russian-made antiaircraft missiles. It is not clear at this point which report is the more accurate one, and what actually happened last night.

  •  Mercenaries in Libya bad - mercenaries in Syria (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    protectspice, Rusty Pipes
    •  Destroying Afghanistan's Buddhas - Bad (3+ / 0-)

      Destroying Syria's UNESCO world heritage sites - Good.

      Beheading Afghan women - Bad;
      teaching children to behead Syrians - good

      It isn't nice to go to jail ... but if that's freedom's price

      by Rusty Pipes on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 12:59:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Well you've managed to excel yourself in (0+ / 0-)

      abject pro-regime propaganda this time . As the video shows these fighters are receiving their first payment in three months - of $150, so $50 a month  and you call them"mercenaries". As they say, they have families to feed - but then you wouldn't care about that.

      •  Most Tuaregs fighting with the Libyan army (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Rusty Pipes

        were actually regular members for over 20 years and they also had families to feed.

        The rebels in Syria are getting paid by foreign countries and have been for many months.

        Saudi, Qatar Pay Syrian Rebels
        25/06/2012

        Saudi Arabia and Qatar are paying wages to the rebels fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad, an Arab diplomat said on Saturday. According to him, the payments have been going on for months – ever since an agreement was signed on April 2 by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, along with a logistical organization in Turkey, where some factions of the Syrian Freedom Army is based. The intention of the participating parties was to encourage the factions of the Syrian army to desert, and also organize the Syrian Freedom Army, control its members, and prevent extremist organizations from joining.

        It turns out that Qatar and the Saudis were actually supporting the extremist Islamists and NOT the moderates.

        Oh what tangled webs they weave....

  •  This attack is Israel's test for Iran, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    InAntalya, Rusty Pipes

    who has said any attack on Syria's sovereignty would be an attack on their own.

    Or rather, not a test, but a kick in Iran's nuts, who won't dare to take any significant action. Seems a little pricey for them though,  trying to muddy the waters with this "hezbollah bound weapons" nonsense...like they're worried about their image or somethin. Or maybe it's just seen as narrative reinforcement for the American audience, who knows. It's not exactly easy to read a cornered lunatic's mind after all.

  •  Is this the future of Syria? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rusty Pipes
    Eastern Syrian town lives under al Qaeda rules
    MAYADIN, Syria | Wed Jan 30, 2013 2:05pm GMT

    (Reuters) - In a small town in Syria's east, Islamist militants have taken unclothed mannequins they see as sexually enticing out of the shops.

    Members of the al-Nusra Front, al Qaeda's Syria affiliate, have also prevented women from wearing trousers, preferring that they adopt the shapeless head-to-toe black veil.

    The town of 54,000 on the Euphrates river offers a snapshot of what life could be like if Islamist rebels take control of significant areas of Syria as President Bashar al-Assad loses further ground.

    Of all the hundreds of rebel units, al-Nusra is considered the most effective. Its fighters, who seek out death in battle as a form of martyrdom, have achieved victories in attacks on several military bases across the country.

    They still represent a small fraction of the armed anti-Assad groups fighting in Syria but are growing in size and influence.

    Their militants, bolstered by veteran Iraqis who battled U.S. forces, fought alongside rebel units from the Free Syrian Army, an umbrella group of rebels ranging from those who say they are fighting for democracy to hardline Islamists, to take Mayadin.

    Government forces left the town in November and half its inhabitants fled during the fighting.

    Now al-Nusra, the Free Syrian Army, local militia and tribal groups have carved the town into fiefdoms. Residents say there are around 8,000 armed men in total.

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