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Myths and truth behind reports about the IDF airstrikes in Syria. Part 3.

How gossips threaten the fragile strategic balance of the Middle East are born.

God is in the details, Gustave Flaubert, 1857.

Since the Syrian civil war broke out in 2011, Israel has routinely carried out raids in Syria, mostly targeting government positions and allied Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah forces and weapons convoys.

On May 13th , Reuters reported : “An Israeli missile attack on the Masyaf area in Syria’s Hama countryside late Friday killed five and injured seven including a child, state media reported, citing a military statement.”

There was no immediate comment from the Israeli military on the attack, which the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said was the 12th Israeli strike on Syrian soil since the beginning of the year.

But, meanwhile, the Russian MoD had revealed on Saturday, May 14th ,that announced that six Israeli F-16s without entering the Syrian airspace fired 22 missiles toward a Syrian scientific research center in Masyaf and the Baniyas seaport on May 13th between 20:25 and 20:32. They stated that the SyADF were able to shoot down 16 missiles and an Israeli UAV used in the attack. Three Syrian soldiers were killed and two civilians, with two Syrian soldiers sustaining injuries. The attack also caused material damage to equipment in the research center.

Having experience in the low credibility of the reports of the Russian MoD on regular Israeli raids in Syria, which were selectively analyzed by the author in previously published chapters as well as a series of articles about the tragic accident of the Russian IL-20, shot down by the SyADF in 2018, published by a true legend of world military journalism, whom the author had the honor to consult for many years, the claimed number of AGMs fired is, of course, always debatable, but the number of missiles not intercepted, which could be easily confirmed by the number and type of targets hit by verified satellite images as well as the other trusted OSINT sources, is reported more than less accurately.

This photo released by ImageSat International on May 15, 2022, shows SSRC sites allegedly struck by Israel in the Masyaf region of Syria. (ImageSat International)
This photo released by Aurora Intel on May 20, 2022, shows Pantsir-S1 SAM allegedly struck by Israel in the Masyaf region of Syria. (Aurora Intel, Twitter)
This photo released by Levant24 on May 15, 2022, shows Pantsir-S1 SAM allegedly struck by Israel in the Masyaf region of Syria. (Levant24, Twitter)

These Sat images of the destroyed one of the underground SSRC facility and the Russian-made Pantsir SHORAD provided by the Israeli ISI Sat operator as well as the trusted OSINT enthusiasts and the Syrian opposition are attached bellow. It seems the destroyed Pantsir-S1 was in charge of the lowest air-defense layer to defense SSRC as well as the Soviet-made pseudo-S-300 PMU2 battery located at outskirts of Masyaf.

In fairness, the author would like to emphasize the subjectively increasing effectiveness of Russian-made short and medium-range SAMs in recent years, which are operating by the SyADF subjective increasing during the latest years in countering Israeli airstrikes.

According to the author’s verified sources, this single Syarian S-300 and all Pantsir systems of the whole areal air-defence are manned by the SyADF teams graduated from the Training Center of the aerospace defense troops of the Mozhayskiy military space academy (town of Gatchina) in 2019.

This photo released by gatchina-news.ru on May 14, 2019, shows the SyADF personnel trained to operate S-300 and Pantsir SAMs at the Training Center of the aerospace defense troops. (Gatchina News)

However, amid rising tensions between Jerusalem and Moscow over the war in Ukraine, Israel’s Channel 13 News and their senior military analyst Alon Ben-David reported on Monday that “the Russian S-300s batteries fired at the Israeli aircraft but that the missiles did not pose a threat and there was no radar lock on the planes. It is unclear if the incident was a one-time event or if it signals a new Syrian policy by the Kremlin regarding Israel’s freedom to act against threats in Syria”.

Anyhow, this unconfirmed report, the answer on whom knows only the SyADF operating the Soviet made second-hand pseudo S-300 PMU2 battery of 4 launchers deployed at outskirts of Masyaf, their single central ADF command post established and controlled by their Russian patrons located in Khmeim Air Base from 2018 and of course, the IDF AF as well as their ELM-2083 and ELM-2090 early warning radars, created additional gossips and insinuations replicated by an international media fed by the  keyboard fighters.

Following the Israeli Channel 13 News as well as the  Twitter inputs attached above, Israel’s friends and enemies alike seized this splendid opportunity to publish breaking news with provocative headlines. With friends like those who needs enemies? 

Report: Russia fired at Israeli planes in Syria for first time (i24news.tv)

Russians fire S-300 at Israeli jets in Syria; could impact tactics, geopolitics “If this is a onetime incident, that is one thing,” said the senior defense source. “If this is a change in Russian policy, the Israeli government will have to decide: when a Russian battery launches, will Israeli attack it?” (breakingdefense.com)

Russian forces used advanced S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to fire on Israeli jets during the Zionist regime’s air attack on targets in northwestern Syria last week, Israel’s Channel 13 news said Monday. (TasnimNews.com)  

As a result of the OSINT researches mentioned above, it turned out that the stated above has nothing to do with the discovered realities.

Also, as the readers can see in the attached image, on September 3, 2018, the Russians showed the details they exactly wanted to show in order to calm the panicked Israeli leadership concerning the S-300 transferred to the SyAAF personnel the delivery and the subsequent combat inaction of which were predicted in advance by an author.

Alexander Portnoy, an expert on Russian military systems who diligently collected this information, says that at the end of the process, the S-300pm2 systems will become practical S-300pmu2, which the IDF and other armies are familiar with, and only then will they be given full use by the Syrians. Expensive, as planned in 4-3 months. (Ynet.co.il, by Ron Ben-Yishai)

The donated second-hand S-300PS, presumably previously in service with the 583rd air defense brigade stationed in Olenegorsk, were upgraded to a hybrid pseudo-S-300PMU2. It was left loaded with the medium-range 5V55RM SAM’s with a maximum range of 75 km instead of the long-range 48N6E2 initially ordered by Syria, but eventually transferred to Iran.

Perhaps all these respected military analysts who created and disseminated around the world the provocative statement by the Channel 13 discussed above within this article could explain to the author a few simple questions set out below:

  1. What is the reason to attack the Israeli F-16s operating outside the Syrian airspace with the medium-range S-300 SAM’s? 
  2. The 5V55RM SAM use a radio-controlled signal guidance mechanism combined with semi-active radar homing (SARH). This kind of the SARH missiles self-destruct 15 seconds after the loss of the radar illumination beam reflected from the target.  How this SAM could be launched by the Syrian S-300 located nearby Masyaf toward the Israeli F-16s if no radar lock on the planes”?
  3. Putin is not able to control every Russian bear running with a balalaika through the streets of Moscow. But each Russian serviceman rotated to serve in Syria signs a special paragraph of his individual contract, under the threat of being convicted by a military tribunal, not to capture any type of manned Israeli aircraft in sight according to the reached de-conflicting agreement between Russia and Israel. As it is mentioned above, all combat ready Soviet-made as well Russian-made transferred to the SyAAD are operationally manned by their teams. Where is the confirmed evidence of the provocative statement that either the Russians or the Russian S-300s batteries fired at the Israeli aircraft?
  4.  As it is mentioned above, no S-300 component such as a “vehicle for the reloading rockets”, but the Pantsir located at the same AD site including the whole team, was destroyed by the non-intercepted Israeli missile. Where is the confirmed evidence of the destruction of the S-300 “rocket reloading machine”?

Unfortunately, with the premature death or retirement of the Mohicans of Israeli military and geopolitical journalism, some of whom the author had the privilege of advising for years, the rating of trust in the Israeli media falls only among the intellectual minority of the Israeli citizens. The famous Court Cases 4000 Bezek-Walla  and 2000 Yediot Ahronot-Yisrael Hayom  against former Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu have only exacerbated widespread mistrust of the media. Additionally, at present, social networks such as Twitter, as well as most media sites and sources of radio and television news, are only components of the (Dis)information Warfare platform as part of the modern Proxy Wars. It seems that the current generation of Israeli military analysts and reporters who collect unverified tweets are unable to improve the image of the media by publishing populist and provocative fakes.

As a result, fueled by fakes like the described above, some of today’s irresponsible Israeli officials and poorly educated political leaders are competing in the race for microphones during the latest weeks, creating diplomatic conflicts and preconditions for regional military clashes that have so far been barely prevented by the efforts of professionals.

In response to the recently created diplomatic conflicts, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said Thursday (May 19th) that Moscow is disappointed by recent “anti-Russian” statements by Israeli officials. “Of course, we were a little disappointed in such anti-Russian statements by a number of responsible persons in Israel, because this does not correspond to the nature of the traditionally friendly relations that we have been building for 30 years since the late 1980s,” said Bogdanov in response to a question from the TASS Russian news agency.

The author just would like to remind again, that as it was stated by the IDF AMAN veterans, at the center of Israel’s most traumatic events such as the War of Attrition and Yom Kippur War as well as additional recent wars and campaigns between the wars stands an Intelligence Fiasco as well as Willful Blindness and the Mistake of Underestimation by the Israeli decision makers.

 

About the Author
Alexander Portnoy holds an MSc EE degree being an internationally experienced (40+) expert in Military and Mission Critical sectors as well as currently is an OSINT Analyst in Geopolitical and Military affairs focusing on Russia and China including their participation in the Great Power Competition in the Middle East as well as advising the Israeli Intelligence Community, Knesset Lawmakers and War Reporters.
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