Posted by Joshua on Saturday, February 10th, 2007
Dissinformation or Truth? Nizar Nayouf and Farid Ghadry claim Syria is distributing anti-aircraft missiles in Iraq and Lebanon.
Nizar Nayouf, the Syrian dissident and author of the web newsletter, "al-Haqiqa," or "The Truth," sent out a special dispatch to warn that Syria is handing over shoulder held anti-aircraft missiles, the 9K310 Egla-1 or Gimlet, to Iraqi resistance groups. The system is designed for destroying low flying aircraft and helicopters.
Nayouf insists that General Amin Sharaba has distributed the missiles. Nayouf reports that al-Haqiqa was told this by a good military source working for Air Force Intelligence in the Ghouta, in the suburbs of Damascus.
Nayouf was also the first give a detailed report on how Iraqi WMD had been hidden in three locations in Syria. Much like his present report. He gave names, dates, and places. He even included a hand written map of the hidden sites in Syria, which he insisted had been turned over to him by his deep throat in Syrian intelligence. (Nayouf has since taken down the map and reporting on this, alas.)
Farid Gadry jumped on the Gimlet bandwagon, sending out a circular in the name of the Reform Party of Syria, claiming:
Washington DC – February 8, 2007/RPS/ — The Middle East Newswire reported today, quoting from Lebanese opposition figures, that Syria has provided Hezbollah with the advanced Russian-made SA-18 missiles. It quoted the Lebanese Army as saying: "Hezbollah intends to significantly increase its anti-aircraft capabilities for any future war with Israel".
The SA-18 are sold to Syria under strict guidelines that prohibits Syria from re-deployment of the shoulder-based missile to another entity. According to the same sources quoted by MENEWS, the SA-18 anti-aircraft missiles have been concealed in the Bekaa valley across the border with Syria.
American authorities in Iraq have not blamed this on Syria yet, but this kind of reporting by the Syrian opposition is clearly intended to get infiltrated into the intelligence mix. General Conway in Iraq denied that recently downed helicopters had been hit by sophisticated weaponry. Although, "he said the CH-46 was not believed to have been shot down, Conway said Wednesday there was a new and troubling "intensity of effort" by insurgents to attack helicopters. The Fox News story, continues:
The most commonly seen anti-aircraft missiles among insurgents is the SA-7, which Marine troop transports have equipment to avoid, Conway said.
But he said more modern, portable anti-aircraft missiles, the SA-16 and SA-18 had begun to appear. The SA-16 uses a more advanced infrared guidance system and is effective at altitudes of up to about 10,000 feet.
Is Iran supplying advanced weaponry to Iraqi militias?
The Wall Street Journal and other papers reported: Secretary of Defense Gates said serial numbers and other markings on bombs, particularly the deadly new "shaped charge" IEDs, show Iranians are supplying weapons and technology, but "he didn't draw a direct link to the Tehran government." He also didn't explain how the serial numbers show they came from Iran or from private contractors.
US Flying Fortresses used to bomb downtown Damascus
This report made me think of the 1948 War in Palestine, when the US and other major powers imposed an arms embargo on both Arab governments and Israel. Despite the embargo, US merchants and Jewish Americans supplied Israeli forces with large amounts of arms. In July of 1948, three American supplied Flying Fortresses bombed down-town Damascus for three days after a truce had been declared. Although the Syrian government complained bitterly to American officials in Damascus that the airplanes proved the U.S. was not respecting its arms embargo, U.S. officials announced that "the planes had been acquired from American civilians over whom the U.S. government had no control."
Interestingly, a Flying Fortress hit the residence of the U.S. military Attaché, badly damaging his house and wounding the Attaché. "The Syrian government censored all press reports about the provenance of the bombers in order to avoid further stirring up the passions of the local populace."
A report of this bombing can be found in the US National Archives: Robert Memminger, charge' d'affaires (Damascus) to Secretary of State, "Syria, Monthly Political Review – July – 1948," (31 July 1948) 890D.00/7-3148.
Ironically, this is the only occasion in Syrian history that a US official has been wounded in Syria. (At least, I am not aware of any American official being hurt in Syria.)