Sunday, March 25, 2018

Did Russia's Warnings Prevent A U.S. Attack Against The Syrian Army?

Earlier this week, reports from military sources in Syria suggested that a US attack against the Syrian Army near the Syria-Iraq border was to be launched “very soon,” though it was unclear what such an attack would entail exactly.

A military monitor told Sputnik reporter and columnist Suliman Mulhem on Friday that the prospect of a US attack against Syria is looking “unlikely for now,” citing his informed military sources as saying they believe the threat level has been downgraded due to recent warnings by Russian officials to the US.

The monitor also reported that many of his sources in the Syrian Air Defense Force (SyADF) are still on high alert, but suggested that the current threat is primarily from Israeli warplanes.

The reporter’s own source in the Syrian Army General Command was unable to confirm this latest development, nor the initial threat of an impending US attack in Syria.

In recent days, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova described Washington’s threats and hawkish stance as “unacceptable,” while Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov issued a warning to the US.

"We've warned and warned the US that these plans must be unconditionally refused. Any such unlawful use of force, similar to what happened almost a year ago at the Shairat air base, would be an act of aggression against a sovereign state, as defined by the relevant article of the UN Charter," Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Tuesday.

Syrian Ambassador to Russia Riyad Haddad told Sputnik on March 23 that the Arab state’s air defenses are ready to deal with an attack.

"We are ready for any possible situation that Syria may face. Our army is prepared, as well as air defense forces, we are ready to repel any attack in order to preserve the sovereignty on our territory and to protect our people,” Ambassador Riyad Haddad told Sputnik.

The SyADF has played a small but important role throughout the ongoing multi-sided conflict. The force has mainly been tasked with identifying and destroying militant drones, but has also downed two military jets – a Turkish F-4 Phantom reconnaissance jet in 2012, and an Israeli F-16 multirole fighter jet earlier this year.

Additionally, Syrian air defenses intercepted a number of tomahawk cruise missiles fired by the US during its strike on the Shairat airbase in 2017.

“I don't expect a largescale attack on Syrian ground forces by the US. To achieve this, the US Air Force (USAF) would first have to attack SAM bases, radar installations and airfields – this is a common tactic. Hitting Syrian Army ground forces in a manner that would diminish their combat value significantly would last for at least several days, if not weeks,” the analyst told Sputnik.
“Even if this phase was successful, the militant remnants in Syria are no longer capable to capitalize on this, as they are very weak. Therefore, for the US to seize and hold territory it will need to deploy a significant number of boots on the ground, and it’s very unlikely they will be willing to do that," he concluded. 

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