The Syrian Nemesis

By Henry Jackson Society

Almost thirty five years ago,the Soviet Union got into a war in Syria on the side of Hafezal-Assad, the Syrian ruler and the father of the present leader, with results disastrous for the USSR.

In June 1982, the Israeli Air Force totally destroyed the powerful Feda facility of Syrian forces and air defences in the Bekaa Valley. The shock in Moscow was almost greater than that of the Syrians. The Soviet military advisers who had set up this facility claimed that nowhere else in the world, not even in the USSR, was there such a dense concentration of missile and artillery air defences. Everything about it was Soviet: the Volga S-75M, Pechora S-125M and Kub (Kvadrat) surface-to-air (SAM) missile systems and the associated self-propelled reconnaissance and guidance vehicles, radar stations, several Osa (‘Wasp’) tactical surface-to-air missile systems, Shilka self-propelled anti- aircraft guns, and electronic warfare systems.

Moreover, alongside Syrian personnel, the equipment was being operated by Soviet officers. At that time, some 1,000 Soviet military specialists and instructors were working in the Syrian army, many of them serving in the group occupying Lebanon. In the first two hours of the operation, 15 of the Syrians’ 19 SAM battalions and 3 or 4 other battalions were neutralized. The next day, the remaining 4 surface-to-air missile battalions were destroyed. In an operation lasting less than two days, the Israelis had totally wrecked 19 Syrian surface-to-air missile battalions and neutralized 4 other battalions.

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