The Guardian reports: Russian military advisers are manning some of Syria’s more sophisticated air defences – something that would complicate any future US-led intervention, the Guardian has learned.
The advisers have been deployed with new surface-to-air systems and upgrades of old systems, which Moscow has supplied to the Assad regime since the Syrian revolution broke out 21 months ago.
The depth and complexity of Syria’s anti-aircraft defences mean that any direct western campaign, in support of a no-fly zone or in the form of punitive air strikes against the leadership, would be costly, protracted and risky. The possibility of Russian military casualties in such a campaign could have unpredictable geopolitical consequences.
Meanwhile, near-daily atrocities have kept western governments under pressure to act. A Syrian government air strike on a town near the central city of Hama on Sunday killed dozens of civilians queueing for bread, according to human rights activists.
Amateur footage from Halfaya showed mangled human remains strewn along a street where people had been blown off scooters and out of cars. One video showed a boy with his feet blown off. Piles of corpses could be seen beneath rubble outside a two-storey building the cameraman described as a bakery. It was unclear how many bodies were in the smoking ruins.
Human Rights Watch has previously accused the regime of targeting bakeries. The group warned the Assad regime that such targeted bombing of civilians represented war crimes. However, in the face of a Russian veto at the UN security council, the international criminal court has not had a mandate to investigate the atrocities committed by either side. The UN has put the death toll at more than 40,000 as the war continues to escalate. [Continue reading…]
It’s hard to get accurate information out of the country. Unless there’s really an open journalism there, we really don’t know the story. As for the Russians, this may be more a sign of sanity then anything else. Consider that the Israelis perhaps might like to jump in with their air bombardment, like they did in Lebanon, blasting every part of the infrastructure that they could, they would find quite a loss of their air force. That just may start a bigger confrontation then anyone wants.
Human Rughts Watch has not mentioned the trucking of much needed bread by the “rebels” into Turkey. HRW has also just accused Hamas of “trying” to kill Israeli civilians (not much success, it seems, unlike the unmentioned IDF attacks), so the reliablity and objectivity of HRW may not be the best.