Counter-Terrorism: Russia And Israel Have An Arrangement

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January 25, 2017: The Syrian government is complaining, to anyone who will listed, that Israeli missiles were used against an airbase outside Damascus and another hit a target in Damascus in December 2016 and again in mid-January 2017. Syria declared these attacks, and another in August 2016 were illegal Israeli aggression. Yet several days after the latest attack Russia broadcast a statement approving of the Israeli action, pointing out that the weapons these missiles destroyed (rockets and missiles from Iran) are an obvious threat to Israel and are meant for use by Hezbollah (the Iran backed Shia terror group in Lebanon) against no one else. Technically the Syrians may have a point but as the Russians made clear, in practical terms that the Israelis have little choice but to carry out these attacks. Recently the head of Hezbollah and Iranian military officials boasted openly about how Iran supplies Hezbollah with long range rockets and guided missiles for use in “destroying Israel.”

There is plenty of evidence that the targets of these attacks on buildings and trucks near Syrian airbases are weapons that explode. Cellphone videos of the recent Damascus attacks and subsequent explosions circulated widely. That video indicated the larger blast was a secondary explosion, as in a missile setting off ammunition or missiles stored in a warehouse. Israel rarely acknowledges air strikes like this but in early 2016 the Israeli government did reveal that it had carried out dozens of air raids in Syria and Lebanon to destroy Hezbollah weapons sent by air freight from Iran. In Lebanon Israeli aircraft also use smart bombs and missiles to attack Hezbollah weapons storage facilities that are found to contain new (usually Iranian or Russian) missiles. This sort of thing is nothing new. For example in February 2016 Israeli warplanes fired three missiles at a Syrian army base south of Damascus. This created more explosions as ammunition and explosives exploded as well. That was the first such attack in 2016 and there were several in 2015. Israeli warplanes have made dozens of attacks in Syria since 2013, several of them to destroy Russian weapons being moved to Lebanon (by Hezbollah) from airbases in Syria.

The most dangerous of these Iranian missiles is the Fateh 110. This began as an Iranian copy of the Chinese DF-11 ballistic missile, which used conventional warheads, GPS and solid fuel, which enables a missile to be made ready in less than 30 minutes compared to several hour for liquid fueled missiles like the older SCUD.

The Fateh 110 is an 8.86 meter (27.5 foot), 3.5 ton rocket with a half-ton warhead. The first version appeared after in 2002 and had a range of 200 kilometers. By 2010 there had been to improved models (often called Fateh 111 with ranges of 250 and 300 kilometers plus improvements in reliability and accuracy. The Fateh 110 developed to replace the liquid fueled SCUD ballistic missiles Iran had been using since the 1980s. SCUD was developed from the German World War II era V-2. In 2008 Iran licensed Syria build the Fateh-110 as the M600. In 2010 some of these were transferred to Hezbollah. Apparently the first Fateh-110 type missiles to be fired in combat were two Syrian M600s fired at rebel targets in 2012.

So while Iran is accurate in saying it sends a lot of these high-tech missiles and rockets to Hezbollah, at lot of them don’t reach their destinations and that is unlikely to change unless Iran moves its new Russian S-300 anti-aircraft systems into Syria. Apparently Israel has made arrangements with Russia to prevent that. This has something to do with what Israel knows about the S-300 and how to make it look bad in combat. Israel and Russia have many such deals since Israel was created after World War II. Russia, then the Soviet Union, was one of the first countries to recognize the state of Israel and one of the largest minorities in Israel are Russian Jews that were allowed to leave the Soviet Union in the last years of the Cold War.

 


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