What’s behind Israel’s overflight of Syria?

There’s a great deal of speculation about an incident Thursday, in which Israeli warplanes overflew Syria, at some point flying supersonically, and may have been fired on by Syrian antiaircraft batteries. They apparently jettisoned fuel tanks which landed near the Syrian border with Turkey.

In an interview with the Dubai-based satellite TV channel Al Arabiya, Syrian parliament member Muhammad Habash claimed that Israel launched an attack mission – which failed.

Habash cited the Israeli Air Force’s attack on the Iraqi nuclear plant 26 years ago – which had immediate impact in the Israeli media as soon as the planes landed. If Israel had succeeded in attaining its aims this time too, Habash says, the world would certainly know. — YNet

The truth is probably much simpler.

Syria has recently obtained new antiaircraft systems from Russia. My guess is that the overflight was intended to provoke the Syrians into “lighting up” the radar equipment on these units, at which point the aircraft could collect data on frequencies and other key characteristics, making effective countermeasures possible.

One of the problems that surfaced in the 2006 war was a lack of preparation and intelligence, particularly in the ground forces, which were surprised by the weapons, fortifications, and command and control capabilities of Hezbollah. The IDF is under ‘new management’ now, with a new Chief of Staff, and there is good reason to believe that — like the air force — the ground forces will be well prepared for what they will encounter next time.

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3 Responses to “What’s behind Israel’s overflight of Syria?”

  1. Same guess here. And re the “ground forces will be well prepared” – sadly, it is usually wishful thinking as far as IDF goes. Not our style, you know…

  2. Shalom Freedman says:

    There is another speculation on this from ‘Debka File’. I have seen no confirmation of this elsewhere. What Debka claims is that the Israeli planes deliberately induced Syrian anti- aircraft missile fire involving the latest Russian supplied system to Syria. According to Debka the Russian system’s ineffectiveness is data transferred to the U.S. for a possible future action against Iran.
    Again there is no confirmation of this that I know.

  3. Vic Rosenthal says:

    Concerning the ground forces, my IDF contacts say that officers at all levels are scared to death of Ashkenazi, he knows everything and hates excuses. So the policies and procedures are being followed. Whether they are the right ones and how much time there is are other questions.

    Concerning the overflight, I don’t doubt that any information collected is being passed to the US. I still can’t believe that the US will attack Iran, because I am afraid that some important circles in the government (the State Department) still don’t see this as vital to American interests.

    But who knows, they are certainly not telling me what they are planning!