Russia says it has formally linked its air defenses in Syria together with those of the government of Bashar Al Assad. The formal arrangement adds more complexity for the United States and its allies in the already complicated conflict.
This could potentially limit the U.S. military’s ability to support its local partners like ISIS, increases the risk of a dangerous confrontation, and just add yet another layer to an ever more complex situation on the ground.
Chief of Staff and Deputy Commander of the Russian Aerospace Forces Major-General Sergey Meshcheryakov made the announcement during a press round table at the Army International-Military Technical Forum, according to state-run media outlet TASS.
The event at the Patriot Expocentre in the Moscow Region is an annual military trade show and this year also includes a pavilion dedicated to the Kremlin’s intervention in Syria.
Today, a unified integrated air defense system has been set up in Syria,” Meshcheryakov said. “We have ensured the information and technical interlinkage of the Russian and Syrian air reconnaissance systems.
All information on the situation in the air comes from Syrian radar stations to the control points of the Russian force grouping.
The bulk of these weapons are situated at Hmeimim Air Base south of Latakia, which also hosts Moscow’s air contingent, including advanced Su-27SM3 Flanker and Su-35S Super Flanker fighter jets and Su-34 Fullback multi-role combat aircraft.
Meshcheryakov claims that his troops can hit targets nearly 250 miles away and at altitudes above 100,000 feet.
This maximum range theoretically gives Russia the ability to engage targets nearly anywhere in the country, as well as over neighboring Turkey and Lebanon.
When linked together with whatever additional radar coverage Assad’s forces might be able to provide, the systems present a significant threat to anyone flying over the country, including the U.S. military and its coalition partners.
At the Army-2017 expo, the Syrian operations pavilion had a display that suggested the short-range Pantsir-S1s had already been very active in the country, possibly even engaging American or other coalition drones.
One of these anti-aircraft weapons reportedly knocked down an RQ-21A “Integrator” near their naval base at Tartus. Also known as the Blackjack, this system is in service with U.S. special operations forces.
Now that the Russians are connected directly to their Syrian counterparts, the presence of their air defense assets can only give the American-led coalition additional pause when planning operations in the country against terrorists in Syria.
It adds new possibilities for a confrontation between U.S.-supported forces, or the U.S. military itself, to rapidly escalate into an even more dangerous situation, too.
This highlighted the increasing danger U.S. troops faced while operating in close proximity to the Syrians and their allies, who are openly hostile, at least rhetorically, to their very presence in the country.
The Kremlin has also pushed to set up “de-escalation zones,” together with Iran and Turkey, which that benefit their collective interests.
The United States has already agreed to support some portion of these ceasefire deals in southwestern Syria, along the borders with Israel, Jordan, and Lebanon.
Needless to say, the situation in Syria is complex and often fluid. However, the Russians and the Syrians seem to be intent on making sure that American involvement in the country stays is limited and ends as soon as possible.
The Drive. com / ABC Flash Point News 2020.