The situation in Syria determines whether the Arab Spring will be stopped, which threatens to spread not only to the entire Middle and Near East, but also to regions such as Central Asia.
Let us consider a number of the most important aspects of the Syrian civil war, relying on the work of experts from the IBM ’s explosives M. V. Kazanin and Yu. B. Shcheglovina prepared for the institute: the current situation on the fronts, the situation with the Syrian air forces and other combatants, precedents with the use of chemical weapons . The last two topics are in the assessments of Chinese analysts as the least engaged external observers.
Situation with complications
The operation of government forces to establish control over Aleppo, if not failed, then seriously stalled. The turning point was the seizure by supporters of the banned in Russia "Dzhebhat an-Nusra" settlement of Khan Tuman. The main force on the part of Damascus there were Iranians, who suffered serious casualties. Detachments of Palestinians who were to cut the enemy’s supply lines in Aleppo in the Khandarat zone failed the offensive.
“Iranians will increase their presence in Syria and in the near future will try to regain a strategic initiative for Aleppo”
The reason is the weakness of the Iranian and Syrian military in the area of headquarters management and tactics. The divisions of the IRGC, which are fighting in Syria, remained militia, and faith in God can not compensate for the lack of training. Charging irregular Palestinian groups with the execution of the most important point of the operation to establish control over the supply channels of the Islamists under Aleppo is an unforgivable mistake. American analysts say in this regard about the differences between Iran and the Russian Federation on the question of further tactics. Moscow allegedly wants to focus on peace negotiations, and Tehran is set on a military solution to the Syrian problem. However, one does not exclude the other, at least with regard to the continuation of offensive operations under Aleppo.
Tehran is unhappy that the Russian aviation poorly helped the Iranians during the battles for Khan Fog. But the intensity of its actions was associated not with the divergence between Iran and Russia, but with adverse weather conditions. In any case, it is obvious that the IRGC cannot carry out offensive and defensive operations without serious air support. At the same time, there were reports that Lebanese militants from Hezbollah were preparing to leave the province of Aleppo and move to the Kalamun area on the Syrian-Lebanese border. In fact, it is most likely a matter of regrouping a number of Lebanese Shiite detachments into the Deryaa and Homs areas, where the situation was seriously complicated as a result of the detachments of the Jebhat al-Nusra detachments distracting from Aleppo.
Hezbollah’s role in the Syrian events remains significant. This was recently confirmed by its leader, Sheikh H. Nasrallah, who adheres to the idea of the necessity of the participation of Lebanese Shiites in the Syrian conflict, as long as it is necessary for their main foreign policy sponsor, Tehran, who does not intend to retreat from Syria. Another thing is that the Iranian forces in the person of the command line of the IRGC are not in a position to inflict a serious defeat on the Islamists without air support from the RF AFR, in connection with which, apparently, the time has come for the Iranian and Syrian allies to ask about the dominance of the Russian General Staff in planning and coordination offensive operations.
When the number of dead generals of the IRGC reaches a critical level, Tehran will be forced to do so for reasons of expediency. Fortunately, there are signals from Iran that the commander of the SIR Quds division, General K. Suleymani, may be replaced as chief coordinator of the Iranian presence in Syria and transferred to the Lebanese direction. He must be replaced by one of his deputies, which indicates that in Tehran, Suleymani and his level of interaction with Damascus are dissatisfied. Although in this case it’s about a warning rather than a real desire to remove Suleymani at a critical moment.
At the same time, supporters of the Islamic State in Homs and Deir ez-Zor, where a large garrison of the Syrian troops was still blocked, became more active. But to say that there is global coordination between the IG and Dzhebhat an-nusroy is not worth it. It is at the level of field commanders, no more. IG has always successfully used the appropriate moments of the operational environment to achieve local goals. In this case, the concentration of government forces near Aleppo weakened their presence near Homs, and the IG command took advantage of this.
We note the local success of government forces in Eastern Gute, where they strengthened their presence. There, disagreements and even clashes began between opposition groups in connection with the death of the charismatic field commander of the “Jaish al-Islam” Zahran Allyush. This once again recalls the importance of the point liquidations of the commanders of Islamists, not only the middle level, which disorganizes the management of the detachments, but also the figures key to preserving the unity of the opposition front in a particular province. That is, it is necessary to classify field commanders of the opposition according to the level of influence on the preservation of the unity of the units in a particular area and their subsequent liquidation.
It can be assumed that the Iranians will increase their presence in Syria and in the near future will try to regain a strategic initiative for Aleppo. They are currently sending reinforcements there. The main forces of the government forces in the person of the Tigers, Desert Hawks and the Republican Guard will also be concentrated there. The Lebanese from Hezbollah will maintain a serious presence near Damascus and Homs on the front sectors that remain uncovered as a result of the redeployment of the main forces near Aleppo. And here should be given special attention to the status of the Syrian air force, as well as other parties to the conflict.
According to Chinese analysts, before the outbreak of civil war and the invasion of IS militants in Syria, the SAR Air Force had nine regiments of Su-22, Su-24, MiG-23BN and MiG-29 combat aircraft. The most combat-capable were fighter aviation units equipped with MiGs, but the lack of replaceable spare parts, aviation kerosene and a high level of danger of using MANPADS held Syrian air forces back during four years of conflict.
According to the Chinese edition of the World Armed Forces, the most modern of these are the light MiG-29. They are able to conduct air combat with enemy aircraft, although Syrian aircraft need serious repairs and upgrades, especially in the field of electronic warfare systems (EW) and airborne radar. New samples of electronic equipment will allow to carry out precision bombing on ground targets. Chinese analysts believe that such work can be performed in Russia and Belarus. For the delivery of aircraft for repair and back, the Russian X-ray system of the Russian Federation can provide Syria with transport aircraft An-124 "Ruslan", which make regular flights to the Hmeimim airbase.
On the side of Damascus in the war are the Russian multi-generation fighter "4 ++" Su-30CM, created taking into account the operating experience in the aviation parts of China and India. This machine allows you to simultaneously fight with several opponents, having 12 points of suspension for rocket-bomb weapons. Su-30MM is equipped with an AL-31F2 engine, equipped with a deflection vector thrust system, which allows maneuvers at a speed inaccessible to Turkish and Saudi Arabian aircraft.
The arsenal of air-to-air aviation armament includes:
medium-range missile Р-27П1 and Р27П1Ф (equipped with the head part of semi-active radar guidance);
medium-range missile P-27T (infrared guidance);
short-range missile P-73 (infrared guidance);
medium-range missile P-77 (aka RVV-AE, active radar guidance).
These missiles make it possible to realize the potential of the airborne radar of Russian fighters and fighter-bombers. Other aircraft of the Russian Aerospace Forces that take part in Russian operations in Syria, Su-34 and Su-35 can be armed with the missiles listed above for self-defense and to cover other aircraft.
As Chinese analysts note, the Su-34 fighter-bomber crews repeatedly used the SAP-518 active jamming interception station to suppress militant MANPADS systems. In terms of capabilities in the field of electronic warfare, the Russian aircraft is comparable to the US E / A-18G Growler, which was created specifically to counter both air defense units and unobtrusive fifth-generation aircraft. According to the PRC, it is E / A-18G Growler that has the greatest number of victories in air combat training with the F-22 Raptor fighter.
The main focus of Chinese specialists is on the most advanced Su-35 fighter jets of the Russian Federation, which were sent to Syria in January. Chinese experts in the field of aircraft engines hoping to take advantage of Russian developments - the 117С engines (known as the AL-41F) installed on the Su-35, which the PLA Air Force will receive according to the signed contract. This engine, with an 14 500 power of kgf, allows the fighter to fly at supersonic speeds (1200 km / h) without switching on the afterburner and has a positive effect on the mass of the combat load, which has reached eight tons.
The main task of Russian combat aircraft is the destruction of the IG infrastructure. For its implementation, the following models of missiles that are part of the weapons of Su-24M, Su-34, and also Su-30CM and Su-35 fighters will be used:
The PLA Air Force reconnaissance is carefully studying the experience in Syria of using both tactical and strategic aviation of the VKS of the Russian Federation, which has repeatedly used the strategic bombers Tu-160, Tu-95MS and Tu-22М3 to launch missile-bomb attacks on Islamist positions. These aircraft can be equipped with the missile models listed below. Moreover, most of the above-listed ammunition has been adopted and successfully used by the Air Force of the Russian Federation since the 90-x.
In addition to studying aircraft and aircraft ammunition SAR, Chinese experts analyze samples of weapons and military equipment of the Turkish and Saudi Arabian air forces. According to analysts of the publication “World Armed Forces”, the most prepared are the Turkish pilots who fly on US-made fighter jets: F-16C / D and F-4E. As for the F-16C / D, Chinese analysts point out that the aircraft are subject to regular upgrades, as a result of which Turkish vehicles have ample opportunities for firing at air and ground targets. The F-16C / D Block 52 fighter has good maneuverability because it was designed specifically for air combat.
F-4E remain in the Turkish Air Force, as Ankara does not have enough money to switch to other types of aircraft. This is a morally obsolete model, not sufficiently maneuverable, and its on-board radar does not allow detecting air targets at a distance of over 30 kilometers and firing more than two enemy aircraft. According to analysts of the PRC Air Force, the capabilities of the Irbis radar installed on the Su-35, the detection of air targets at a distance of 300 kilometers, makes it unnecessary to send Turkish aircraft into ATS airspace.
Specialists from the PRC are studying the flight and technical capabilities of the Saudi Arabian Air Force, equipped with heavy F-15E “Strike Eagle” fighter-bombers (made in the USA) and “Tornado” fighters (made in the UK, Germany and Italy). Aircraft F-15E "Strike Eagle" have high tactical and technical characteristics and can be equipped with a wide range of ammunition, while the level of serviceability and combat readiness of air regiments KSA on the basis of "Tornado" leaves serious questions.
Chemistry of War
With regard to chemical weapons, according to experts of the Department of International Relations of the Ministry of Defense of China, until recently, the groups fighting in Syria used conventional weapons. However, in the territory controlled by ISI fighters, after the defeats of the government forces in Iraq and Syria, the Islamists gained access to samples and small stocks of chemical warfare agents (BOV), which they subsequently used repeatedly. Special services of Western countries confirm that at the disposal of the IG there are several hundred tons of components for the production of chemical weapons, which are dispersed in 60 settlements of Syria and Iraq.
According to the World Armed Forces, the Internet groups of Islamists have repeatedly distributed in open access announcements about the purchase of components for the manufacture of CEL. Such acquisitions would help the Islamists to conduct offensive operations against the Kurdish militia in Syria and Iraq, the government troops of these two countries, and to carry out punitive operations against the "moderate" groups fighting against the Assad regime.
According to the intelligence services of the People's Republic of China, the terrorists managed to form a group of chemical weapons developers from specialists who came from Iraq, Syria, Russia, a number of countries of the European Union and Southeast Asia. The team leader was Abu Malik, a former adviser to Iraq’s President Saddam Hussein. It is known that in February 2016, a unit of special operations forces of the US Armed Forces seized one of the chemists in the area of Babur village in Iraq. Also, the leaders of the IG made attempts to create chemical weapons through the abduction of technology from the electronic databases of the armed forces of NATO member countries. To this end, hackers of the Cyberhalifat grouping repeatedly conducted special operations to infect computers of the armed forces of the countries - members of the North Atlantic Alliance.
Analysts of the Institute of Forces of Radiation, Chemical and Biological Defense of the PLA notice that for the first time the IG gained access to chemical weapons after the seizure in June of 2014 of one of the warehouses of the Iraqi Armed Forces near Mosul. There, the militants discovered two thousand empty chemical munitions and about 600 tanks with residues of mustard gas. At the University of Mosul, they found about 40 kilograms of uranium ore. According to Chinese intelligence agencies, the Islamists were also able to seize a certain number of warfare organizations in the warehouses of the SAR armed forces, which were on the territory under their control.
In August, 2013-I supporters used sarin in the Aleppo area, in August 2015-th - in the area of the village of Mareya in the north of the SAR. In January last year, Islamists used the BOV against the Kurdish militia in the area of Mosul. Drivers suicide bombers carried out cars near the village. In August and September, 2015 th mortar chemical munitions were used against units of the Kurdish militia, which acts against terrorists in northern regions of Iraq and Syria. According to the PRC media, IG militants have used warheads more than 20 times in the territory of Syria alone. In March, 2016 Islamists used chemical munitions in the Kirkuk area in Iraq, but did not achieve much.
Chinese experts emphasize that only Russian special services are making real efforts to combat the proliferation of chemical weapons from Syria and Iraq. Moscow regularly warns France and Germany about the likelihood of moving in their direction components for the rapid manufacture of explosive devices containing components of chemical weapons. The secret services of the Kingdom of Morocco report that the IS militants are actively developing chemical and biological weapons in laboratories in the north of Iraq and Syria. The Moroccan Counter-Terrorism Office collaborates with its counterparts from Algeria and the United States, which allowed them to gather information about 1500 citizens of the kingdom who went to Syria for war on the side of the caliphate. 275 of them were able to return home and were arrested.
It is obvious that the presence of warfare at the disposal of the IG raised the level of terrorist threat to a new level. The use of mustard or sarin in crowded places - at the stations of the subway, railway, in cinemas is a real threat to European countries whose special services do not have the necessary agents in the ranks of the Islamists. In these conditions, the development of new means of collective and individual protection for civilians and military personnel is particularly relevant. It was not by chance that during the Northern Thunder exercises, members of the Arab anti-terrorist coalition practiced actions under the conditions of use of chemical and biological weapons by the enemy. US forces deployed in the Gulf countries (UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain) regularly test the ability of their personnel to perform combat missions when they are used by a potential opponent of bacteriological, biological and chemical weapons.
All of the above means that military actions against terrorist groups and organizations in Syria and Iraq, which are led by the SAR forces, their regional allies, the Russian Aerospace Forces, the Iraqi army, the Kurds, and the US-led anti-terrorist coalition constitute a single system United States leadership to recognize this obvious fact. The presence of chemical weapons in the hands of Islamists means the need to move from flirting with their patrons and sponsors - Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia - to a real confrontation with the IS and other Salafi groups, unlike the politico-diplomatic maneuvering that is currently in Vienna and Geneva . This applies primarily to the United States, France and the United Kingdom.