Syria has shipped some SA-8 (officially, the 9K33) mobile anti-aircraft missile
systems across the border to Lebanon, for use by the Shia terrorist group
Hezbollah. This bit of news came out during the clamor that followed the August 2nd
assassination, by a sniper in northern Lebanon, of Syrian Brigadier General
Mohammad Sulaiman. Israel denied any responsibility for the killing, even
though Sulaiman was known to be responsible for shipping Iranian weapons from
Syria to Hizbollah forces in Lebanon. Sulaiman has long been a major player in
supporting Hizbollah, and is part of the senior leadership in Syria.
The SA-8 is a four decade old Russian system that was quite innovative
when it first came out. The 6x6 vehicle carries the radar (with a range of 30
kilometers), and six missiles (with a range of 15 kilometers). The system has
undergone many upgrades over the years, and can still be dangerous to aircraft
not equipped (with countermeasures) to cope. The presence of the SA-8 makes the
skies over southern Lebanon more dangerous for the regular recon flights by Israeli
jets, as well as any combat operations in a future war.
It's not certain that the Israelis killed Sulaiman, although the
sophistication of the hit points to Israeli special ops. But Sulaiman had many
enemies in Lebanon, where he has long been active in legal, and illegal,
business dealings. Lots of powerful businessmen in Lebanon have been burned by
Sulaiman over the years, and would like to see him gone.