However, if you look at the comparative figures of the forces of the parties, then the Syrian coalition does not shine in this conflict. Indeed, the Syrian air force has no more than six dozen modern MIG-29 and Su-24 aircraft. In addition, about the same old Soviet aircraft (MIG-23, SU-22, those that are still alive after four years of war), the Syrians can put in the second echelon. These forces may be limited to act in the zone of its air defense. MIG-21, if some of them are still on the move, can only be considered as a kamikaze. To these forces you need to add a fighter squadron of the Russian VKS (SU-27, SU-35 and SU-30) and three dozen strike aircraft (SU-24, SU-25 and SU-34). Total, active operations can lead a little more than a hundred aircraft. These forces will be opposed by the Turkish and Saudi air forces, which together have more than 300 modern first-line aircraft (F-15, F-16, Eurofighter) and as many obsolete, but suitable for operations in the second line (F-4, F- 5, "Tornado").
The superiority, as we see, is more than threefold, though, on the Syrian side there will be Russian and own air defense systems. However, neither the C-400, nor the "Fort-s" of the "Varyag" will be able to completely cover the territory of Syria, whose air defense, especially after terrorists have walked through it, is focal. The situation is even worse on land. Turkish and Saudi troops can put in the field about 500 thousands of people. While the Syrian army even before the war had no more than 125 thousands of "bayonets." According to various estimates, there are also up to 20 thousands of fighters of the Iranian IRGC, Hezbollah and the Iraqi Shiite militia on the side of Assad. Thus, the total ground forces of the Asadites are unlikely to outperform 150 thousands of people. But at the same time they will have to fight with several tens of thousands of former enemies - militants-terrorists from the IS and other "moderates".
A thousand "Abrams" and "Leopards" of the Allies are opposed by about the same (after military losses) Syrian T-72, a fleet of obsolete tanks on both sides it is diverse and amounts to 2-3 thousand combat vehicles. Light armored vehicles from the Allies are represented by approximately 3 thousand units, while the Syrians, given the large losses of armored vehicles, may have no more than 2000 infantry fighting vehicles and armored personnel carriers. By artillery, the Syrians can hardly put more than 500 self-propelled guns and thousands of towed guns, while their opponents may well use up to 1,5 thousand self-propelled guns and up to 5000 units of towed artillery. Parties also have from 400 to 600 MLRS.
In such a situation, the actions of the Kremlin, which is plunging deeper and deeper into the abyss of this war, risking its image in the event of a defeat, seem completely illogical. However, let us not naively think that incompetent dummies sit in the Kremlin and the General Staff of the Russian Federation. What can Russian strategists expect in a possible Syrian war?
First, the Saudis, in turn, are bogged down in Yemen, where they can not cope with the Hussites. Therefore, if the kingdom can allocate 150-200 airplanes of various types for participation in the air operation, large ground forces are unlikely to come to the aid of the Turks.
Secondly, the Turks themselves must understand that after the invasion of Syria and the attacks of our group, they will have to deal not only with the aircraft of the Syrian air force group. At aerodromes in Armenia, Sochi, and Crimea, Russia can deploy up to hundreds of modern aircraft, and at the same time “calibrate” Turkish air bases from ships of the Black Sea Fleet and the Caspian flotilla and strategic aircraft. It is not for nothing that the Saudis “hid” their planes “under the wing” of the American Senti on Incirlik, although bombing ISIS, and the Syrians, is much more profitable, for example, from Diyarbakir.
Thirdly, Turkey also has a “second front”. Turks have to deal with the Kurds, both within their borders and outside of them in the “Syrian Kurdistan”, and in the second case, the Kurds are partly under the tutelage of Uncle Sam, which prevents the Turks from dealing with them directly.
Fourthly, it is difficult for the Turks to realize their numerical superiority. With a large length of the border, the offensive can actually be developed along the Euphrates valley and in the direction of Aleppo. However, the offensive along the Euphrates is a dead end, pushing into the desert and not having convenient ways into the depths of Syria, bypassing Aleppo. Another strategic direction could be the direction to Latakia and through Idlib to the rear of Aleppo and to Ham. But at least until the fall of Aleppo, while maintaining the Syrian grouping south of it, the attack on Idlib is dangerous. Grouping can be surrounded by simultaneous strikes from Latakia, Aleppo and Hama. Moreover, it is necessary to take into account that this area is best covered by Russian aviation, air defense and artillery of the Russian group. The same applies to the attack on Latakia, the Turkish group comes with an open flank under the maximum impact of Russian aviation.
There are other possible options for strengthening the Russian position in Syria. But they are not so serious, or they are two-edged weapons. For example, the Iranian army could be of great help in repelling Syria’s aggression. But here there are several problems at once. First, Iran has no land border with Syria or other parties to the conflict, and an attempt to break through Iraq can lead to a conflict with the USA and a conflict to a nuclear war. This is the maximum problem, but at the very least, in this case, Israel will take the side of the coalition, and there will be absolutely nothing to repel the blow. It would be much better if Iran remains aloof from the conflict and continues to support the Syrians with its “vacationers”.
So, based on all of the above, we can assume how the Turkish military sees the development of events.
At the first stage, the Turkish and Saudi air forces, relying on the Incirlik and Gaziantep airfields, will use about 1,500 modern aircraft to gain air supremacy over the Latakia region. For the suppression of our aircraft at AB Hmeimim can also be used as long-range MLRS. Under the cover of these actions, Turkish troops make a shot through the territories occupied by the IG and DAN terrorists in Aleppo with the aim of encircling and defeating the large group of Syrians operating here. For the “world community,” Turks may well explain this with the fight against terrorists, in which Russians and Asadites are very much in the way.
After encircling and crushing the group in the Aleppo area, for 5-10 days (depth 50-80 km), the Allied forces develop an attack on Hama and can launch an attack on Latakia, since the left flank no longer hangs in the air. At this time, aviation is being transferred to the northern direction to counter Russian aviation and organizes air defense systems at Turkish air bases, including and from rocket attacks. Prior to this, the Turks, with the help of the West, are delaying the start of operations of the Russian Aerospace Forces in the north by diplomatic means.
Both of these operations should lead to the sweeping of the province of Latakia up to the Lebanese border, as well as to the breakthrough of the Turkish troops south of Homs with the subsequent attack on Damascus. The depth of operations is about 400 km, which, according to the experience of the Iraq campaign 2003, should take up to 40 days. Maintaining the minimum pace in 10 km per day should be ensured by a three-fold superiority in forces and a twofold superiority in means (except tanks), plus the presence of terrorist enclaves in the depths of the military building of the Syrian troops.
What are the weaknesses of this plan and what can we oppose to it? The main task of the Syrians will be delaying the time. This will allow, firstly, to fully use the potential of the Russian videoconferencing. If the Hamim grouping of the VKS manages to hold out until the start of operations in the north, the Turks and Saudis will not be able to concentrate superior forces in the north and ensure reliable air defense of their airfields. In such a situation, our aviation, having linked the Turks with battles, will be able to destroy most of the Turkish airfields with rocket attacks, which will lead to the paralysis of the Allied aviation, the domination of the Russian HVAC and Syrian air forces in the air, the resumption of the air bridge over Iran and Iraq. To do this, it is necessary to ensure the survival of our air force in Syria either by destroying long-range Turkish MLRS, or by dispersing the grouping over more remote airfields, even taking into account the weakening of the group’s actions for the time being dispersed. The first task, perhaps, can be handled by Russian ships operating along the Syrian coast and part of the air base cover, which are also in service with the MLRS.
Secondly, to turn Aleppo into a fortress, having entrusted its defense to militiamen and Hezbollah units, which are light infantry, requires less supply and can spend more time in encircled environments. In addition, Hezbollah has a rich experience of fighting in the conditions of the city, and large cities, judging by the operations in Grozny, Sirte, Ban-Walid, Slavyansk, in the same Aleppo by the terrorists, have a great defensive potential. The defenders must be provided with a sufficient number of long-range weapons, so as not to allow the Turks to adjust the supply of their troops south of Aleppo, bypassing the city. And, accordingly, do not allow the start of an offensive by large forces until the fall of Aleppo. At the same time, the best of the Syrian units in the second column, acting in the direction of Idlib, should be thrown in order to defeat or discard this grouping before connecting it with the northern grouping. If the Syrians in Aleppo will be able to hold out for 20 days, the factor of the Russian videoconferencing system, of which the conversation is separate, will take effect.