Despite the ongoing internal unrest, Syria is continuing to upgrade its military capabilities and recently declared a number of new surface-to-air missile systems (SAMs) operational.Over the past year, Syria has received a number of SA- 17 batteries from Russia under a deal signed several years ago. Two batteries are already reportedly operational and deployed along Syria’s border with Lebanon. A third is undergoing training
Also known as the Buk System, the SA-17 has a range of about 30 km. and can intercept multiple targets flying at altitudes of over 40,000 feet.
The launchers are mounted on trucks and are mobile, making them difficult targets.Syria is believed to have invested billions of dollars in the past 10 years in new SAMs aimed at undermining Israel’s ability to operate in Syria or Lebanon in a future war. Israel fears that some of the systems might make their way into Hezbollah hands in Lebanon such as the SA-8 truckmounted system.Israel’s primary concern is with the possibility that Hezbollah will get its hands on some of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal.
According to Fides, the Faruq Brigade of the Free Syrian Army had threatened to kill any Christians who did not leave, and then confiscated their homes and resettled them with Muslim families. The sources told Fides that the Faruq Brigade is made up at least partially by members of Al Qaeda and other Wahhabi groups.The exodus from Homs began back in February, according to the Christian relief agency Barnabas Fund, which reported at the time that at least 200 local Christians had been massacred, while more had been kidnapped, tortured and ransomed by Muslim forces. Still more Christians were forced to act as human shields for the rebel fighters.Church leaders called the situation in Homs an "ongoing ethnic cleansing of Christians," and said that the 1,000 Christians still in the city are living in a constant state of fear. Homs was previously home to some 50,000 Christians.Bishara said that should Assad fall, it is almost certain that Sunni political forces aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood and radical Salafi groups will take power, as they did in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, leaving the region's Christians even more vulnerable.
Israel has issued a new warning: any terror attack on Israel will be answered with the IDF firing on Hamas and Hizbullah.Any attack on southern Israel will be met by IDF firepower directed at Hamas, said Gantz. Any attack on Israel emanating from Lebanon will be answered by an attack on Hizbullah, he said.Echoing a statement made in a ceremony to honor outstanding soldiers earlier in the evening, the IDF chief of staff added that “anyone who tries to test us, domestically or overseas, will find a sophisticated army ready to defend Israel and subdue its enemies.”
Although Egypt has denied that rockets were launched from the Sinai Peninsula, it is now believed that at least three missiles were fired at Eilat from the region