“Syria fire missiles at Israeli jets after airstrikes” – TTG


By Ian Deitch | AP March 17 at 1:14 PM

JERUSALEM — Syria fired missiles at Israeli warplanes early Friday after a series of Israeli airstrikes inside Syria — a rare military exchange between the two hostile neighbors that was confirmed by both sides.

The Israeli military said its aircraft struck several targets in Syria and were back in Israeli-controlled airspace when several anti-aircraft missiles were launched from Syria toward the Israeli jets.

Israeli aerial defense systems intercepted one of the missiles, the army said, without elaborating. It would not say whether any other missiles struck Israeli-held territory, but said the safety of Israeli civilians and Israeli aircraft was “not compromised.”  (Washington Post)


All sorts of wild rumors were flying about after this exchange this morning. Most of them, if not all of them, are not true. Even the U.S. is downplaying the whole affair. A DOD spokesman said this in a briefing. "I do not have any particular reaction for you. We are certainly aware of it. This is a matter between Israel and Syria and not something we were a party to.” 

The best explanation I’ve seen for this is offered by Elijah J. Magnier over his twitter account.


1. What happen between Israel and Syria today in Palmyra?

 Israel tried to break "redlines", attacking inside the "allowed zones & targets.

2. There are no targets for Iran or Hezbollah (weapons traveling to Lebanon or the Golan heights) in Palmyra but an attempt to push ROE.

3. The targets Israel hit today are close to the T4 and are involved in the war in Syria, a red line for Russia who approved a "warning"

4. Russia doesn't want to see an Israeli jet hit over its operational theatre (in Syria) unless Israel pushed the boundaries.

5. This explains why Syria didn't use its S-300 but limited itself to already existing anti-air missiles and a "warning to Israel".

6. As long as Israel hits targets in Damascus airport or warehouses on the way to Lebanon (not inland like today) Russia won't intervene.

7. The recent visit of Netanyahu to Moscow failed to reach its objectives in convincing Russia to switch against Iran and Hezbollah.

8. Israel tried to "test the ground" today but will "close the incident" and accept the message behind it, aware Syria is Russia’s playground.  (@EjmAlrai)


I agree with Magnier. If Bibi didn’t receive the message during his pilgrimage to Moscow last week, I would think he got it loud and clear this morning. Vladimir Vladimirovich is calling the shots now in this part of the Mediterranean… and he wants a quiet, orderly neighborhood.






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54 Responses to “Syria fire missiles at Israeli jets after airstrikes” – TTG

  1. turcopolier says:

    I fail to see how Russia delivered a “warning” in this encounter. pl

  2. b says:

    Moscow summoned the Israeli ambassador toady and , I presume, read Netanyahoo the riot act. It likely called off ALL Israeli strikes onto Syrian ground and may have had a word or two about Israel’s continuing al-Qaeda/ISIS support near the Golan. Israel has north of 1 million Russian heritage voters who love Putin. Netanyahoo can’t screw him like he screws U.S. president.

  3. Bandolero says:

    TTG, pl
    The best explanation of the incident I heard so far is that it was neither the Russians nor the Syrian air defence that fired onto the Israeli jets, but it was Hezbollah themselves, and it was done with Iranian systems developped on the base of Russian S-200 technology transfer. The message sent to Israel was: our missiles are not yet the very last model, but we can see your jets already on radar and game is on that we improve our missile technology.

  4. turcopolier says:

    IMO the R+6 needs to shoot down a couple of Israeli aircraft. So that like Daigerfield they could have some respect. pl

  5. Kooshy says:

    TTG, it sounds like the Moscow trip did not produce the objectives Nutywho whished for, Iranian news sites report Russia has deployed up to 150 minesweper specialists around T4, I don’t Think is a good idea to bomb Russian personnel and don’t know if Babi thinks a WW3 is good for him and Israel, but I think he should get his head checked.

  6. Kooshy says:

    Colonel, IMO, unless is the Syrian or Russians goverment’ doing it, the US, and Europe’ Israeli firster crowd, will go ballistic and will pressure Russia for not controlling her (terrorist) allies.

  7. Bandolero says:

    I agree but I also see a point in thinking that it would be preferable if Iran and Hezbollah will do that with “indigenous” systems.
    It would lead to a situation where Russia can’t be targeted as an enemy by the Borg when they need the Russians to reign in their “difficult” Iran/Hezbollah clients and Russia may extract from the US in reciprocal manner that the USA needs to reign in their “difficult” Israeli/Saudi clients.

  8. pl,
    I see this as a measured and restrained warning. Surely more measured than the Israelis deserve, but it was a step beyond words. I think it was a shock to an Israeli force more comfortable with beating children, kidnapping sheep and bombing targets with impunity than facing a foe who just may shoot back.

  9. lally says:

    Israeli defense analysts Barbara Opall-Rome has an analysis of the “bizarre Israel-Syria story” in Defense News. As to the most excellent Elijah Magnier’s bullet point #7 above, she appears to believe that things went swimmingly in Moscow:
    “A more likely scenario, several experts here said, is that the Syrian regime was so incensed by yet another successful Israeli air attack on its soil that it fired off a Scud-type ballistic missile to make a point. Perhaps their point was to warn Israel against future incursions into its territory.
    Or, in light of last week’s meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin aimed at coordinating strategic interests and actions in Syria, perhaps Damascus felt the need to protest too much clarity between its Russian patron and its Israeli enemy”
    ??? Perhaps, the loyal Ms Opall-Rome is simply applying some distracting lipstick…..to the usual suspect.

  10. MRW says:

    TTG, I’ve found your recent posts highly entertaining and satisfying. Ditto the comments both for and against. God, I love this site.

  11. BraveNewWorld says:

    Thanks for the reminder the Russians are over there in numbers. For some reason I hadn’t clicked on that. Imagine if the Isralis had hit Russians?

  12. MRW says:

    “distracting lipstick.” lol.
    Ah, the expression of the pedant in me. Pardon, excusez-moi. But when quoting as you have (without doing billboards like QUOTE/END QUOTE, or itals), the succeeding paragraphs to the first always take a double quote at the beginning (not the end) until the quote is finished.
    So, “Or, in light of last week’s meeting . . .

  13. Degringolade says:

    TTG: This is related…I would truly love to hear your thoughts.
    Me: I shot beer out of my nose when I read this, I gotta be more careful, took me five minutes to wipe off my monitor.

  14. BraveNewWorld says:

    A few points. First Syria doesn’t have S-300 thay have some old S-200.
    Russia has S-300 &S-400 in Syria but it is manned and controlled by Russians.
    I have to agree with others. What ever Netanyahu and Putin were talking about in their recent meeting it did not go Bibi’s way. Not only was the public rebuke of Netanyahu quite remarkable. But if the Russians are calling in the ambassador for some ‘splainin’ just a few days later, thing are not rosy.
    I highly doubt Israel learned any lesson of the type Magner referred to. After all if you know that no matter what you do the US is still going to come bail you out, you don’t learn lessons, you just keep acting recklessly and irresponsibly.

  15. BraveNewWorld says:

    I should toss one more thing in here. If Putin wants to really send a message, off loading some new anti-air kit for the SAA would do the job. I am keeping my eyes open for a story to that effect.

  16. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I agree that Putin desires a quiet neighborhood; that is their strategic objective.
    China desires the same thing, without a doubt, if they can get it.
    That the Western Fortress cannot share that objective is indicative of its political decay; in my opinion.

  17. Degringolade,
    Sounds similar to the USS Zumwalt. It can’t fire its main guns because the rounds cost $800,000 a piece. It’s the weak link of having policy of designing weapons systems where money is no object. If I had to guess, I’d say some numb nut Saudi crew blew a Patriot missile on a $200 drone. The Houthis, Hezbollah and probably many others are taking note of this. How about constructing cheap drones that mimic more dangerous threats. It’s like dummy warheads on MIRVs.

  18. MRW,
    Thanks. Glad you enjoy some of my lighter pieces. I enjoy presenting them.

  19. Peter AU says:

    Iran/Hezbollah seemed to survive through the nineties ok, so perhaps they have a little more independence than as clients to Russia?
    Saudi/Israel on the other hand… how would they cope without big brother?

  20. Peter AU says:

    At the time Russia moved the S-300VM into Tartus, Russian MoD announced they had also completed electronic upgrades to the Syrian S-200 systems.
    Any thoughts on this TTG/pl?
    Electronics seem perhaps the most important part of anti aircraft systems?

  21. lally says:

    Thanks for the appreciation and pedant perspective, but, Luddite than I am, I will continue to keep to the simple format that has served since my initial foray into contentious online forum discussions circa Springtime 2001.
    In actuality, you missed my most egregious violation of innerweb rules of the road. I woefully neglected to provide the link to Ms Opall-Rome’s illuminating article describing the head-scratching among her knowledgeable Israeli contacts re some of the puzzlingly contradictory and sketchy details as related in the official version of the incident:

  22. MRW says:

    TTG, I appreciate the heavier shit as well. Make no mistake. Or I wouldn’t pay attention to the “lighter pieces.” Why would I?

  23. MRW says:

    I highly doubt Israel learned any lesson of the type Magner referred to.
    Israelis are incapable of it. Basically stupid, nationally and diplomatically. Comes with being a Sabra. Not the smartest knives in the drawer no matter what Dan Señor claims.

  24. Old Microbiologist says:

    Not to be snickity, but I predicted this back in the drone discussion. Not mentioned though, is what can be done when being attacked by a swarm of autonomous programmed cheap drones each carrying 1 kg of munitions at 100 mph running zig-zag courses. Talk about cost/benefit ratios. It is not a question of if but actually when this comes to fruition.

  25. confusedponderer says:

    Ok, here i some ridiculous if not so light story from Erdoganland:
    The turks have found a cunning and ruthless way to punish the darn dutches, hurting the dutch where it’ll pain them – at the cows.
    There are living at least 40 dutch designed milk cows called the ‘Holstein cows’ in Turkey, producing a lot of milk (the dutch optimised them for that).
    Clearly, after the dutch impertinences and their darn election they are no longer tolerable for the toughest pro-Erdogan turks.
    Thus the grand business brain who owns the 40 cows came up with the cunning if not just brilliant revenge concept and demented that …
    * the darned dutch shall take the back the cows
    * the darned dutch shall refund the money spent on these cows
    * if they don’t do that, then the 40 cows will be butchered
    * and when they are butchered, and their beef will be fed to poor people
    * Amen
    This braindead idea will be hard to be overdumbed even by experts in that field like Mr. Erdogan.
    True to themselves, the turks call the butcher the cows move a ‘protest’. “Har, har, yes you darn dutch, take that, har, har, har!”
    I think it put in real life words, is just a recordly dumbass dumb destruction of valuable property, likely because nothing better came to genius minds, and because it can be done.
    My sceptic mind suggests me that, in light of that, the owner could have just burned the money he expended on buying the cows and invite the poors to warm themselves at the fire. Alas …
    Anyway, The cow butchery will hardly hurt the dutch … somehow:
    They’ll learn that the turks are so Erdogan hard core that they blinkless even kill cows that feed them with milk … and their owner likely only does that to feel like a real hardass man.
    The dutch will likely just laugh incredulous, and go and have a pint of milk or beer over this idiotic absurdity. That’d be not unwise.
    For me, having read that nonsense means it is already a time for Wild Turkey – and that right after breakfast …

  26. Rd says:

    confusedponderer said…
    “They’ll learn that the turks are so Erdogan hard core that they blinkless even kill cows that feed them with milk … and their owner likely only does that to feel like a real hardass man.”
    Very well said. and all of this from the very government that some years ago believed in peace abroad, peace at home. while they had good relations and economic benefit from Iran, Russia, and Syria. good tourism, etc. but they had to go and burn all of that just be a servant to uncle sam’s flawed FP plans.
    perhaps the real question should be, why are such ‘hard core’ polities are the friends of the west and Nato members, and hopeful EU “to be” members!!!?

  27. YT says:

    I know not whether ’twas (pun) intentional or mere serendipity.
    But ‘Babi’ in [aboriginal] malay means “pig”/”swine”.

  28. Andy says:

    I also don’t understand why this is a warning or even what the warning was. Israel has conducted at least six strikes in Syria in the last two years and Mezzah Airport (the reported target for this latest strike) was also hit by Israel in January and last December. That’s three attacks at or near the same Syrian military facility in the past four months.
    So, a few thoughts:
    – I don’t really see anything unusual here except maybe that Syrians actually shot back and the Israeli Ambassador to Russia was summoned for an explanation but we don’t know what that means yet.
    – The Syrians reportedly used their SA-5 (S-200) which is antiquated and not designed for use against tactical aircraft. It does have a long range, however, so it’s not surprising that the missiles would burn-out and land outside of Syria.
    – Secondly, given almost all of these targets have been inside the Damascus super-MEZ, it’s quite likely Israel is using stand-off weapons. They may not even need to enter Syrian airspace given how close the targets are to the Lebanese border. For those that don’t know, Israel routinely flies patrols and reconnaissance over Lebanon and that baseline activity makes it easy for Israel to limit Syrian/Russian I&W for these strikes.
    – Finally, a rhetorical question: Where was Russia’s supposedly awesome ECM that can supposedly turn off AEGIS systems and prevent F-16’s from shooting down Erdogan’s plane hundreds of miles away over central Turkey? Given the hype, one would think these systems should be able to do something in response to repeated Israeli attacks near Syria’s capital city.

  29. Highly specialised European breeds are not necessarily suitable. Maybe for the Turks, as is certainly the case with the Africans, they’d do better to dispense with these exotic imports and use their own stock that is better evolved to cope with local conditions.
    Could be a moral in there somewhere.

  30. charly says:

    The US does the drone mimicking a real plane for a very long time. It is nothing new

  31. charly says:

    Have you any idea how much more milk those Dutch cow produce per day? Those modern milk cows produce 4 times as much milk as the milk cows did a 100 years ago

  32. charly says:

    The rocket is but if it works it works and a meaningful improvement is hard. Improving the electronics on the other hand is easy mainly because of Moore’s law

  33. Peter AU,
    I haven’t the slightest idea what these upgrades may be. I would think existing systems were integrated into the overall Russian manned systems. To me that lends credence that the S-200 firing was a deliberate and measured response.

  34. Andy,
    I think the response was subtle and meant as a message. Perhaps it was accompanied with some type of ECM action. I haven’t heard of any damage from the air attack. This kind of subtle and quiet response lets the Israelis continue to make believe they are invincible. I think a vigorous response that visibly damages this fairy tale in the eyes of the Israeli public may force the government to do something stupid to prove how tough they are. That’s a situation the Russians want to avoid.

  35. Babak Makkinejad says:

    An Iranian source claims that one airplane crashed inside Israel and another one was damaged.

  36. turcopolier says:

    I am told that SA-5s were fired at the Israeli aircraft. pl

  37. pl,
    Yes, that was the measured response and the “message” sent to Israel. The Russians did not use their S-300 or S-400.

  38. turcopolier says:

    The SA-5/S-200 is an antique but it looks as big as a bus on radar. I still do not think that was much of a signal. The Russians will learn that the Israelis have hard heads and are unimpressed by gestures that indicate indecision. pl

  39. Chris Chuba says:

    Can anyone explain this fanatical obsession that Israel has with Hezbollah? Yes, I understand that they are enemies but enemies can coexist if both are semi-rational creatures. Hezbollah isn’t going to initiate a first strike against Israel with their missiles because they know that Israel will burn Lebanon down to embers. Of course, this assumes that Hezbollah is not suicidal but I believe that this is a safe assumption based on their past behavior.
    1. They have not fought Israel for 10yrs, ISIS and Al Qaeda have never shown anything close to this type of restraint. They can’t go a week without attacking someone.
    2. How many suicide bombers has Hezbollah produced? None. Even if you count the 1982 Beirut bombing, that would be a grand total of one, that’s one because that was probably a Shiite militant but that was before Hezbollah was formed but still that is ONE vs. thousands for Al Qaeda and ISIS.
    It looks like Hezbollah is a much more disciplined and rational foe as opposed to ISIS and Al Qaeda who are totally nuts. Why is Israel willing to flirt with the crazies just to keep going after Hezbollah? I wonder if there are Israelis who see things differently then Netanyahu or if this Hezbollah fixation is the norm.

  40. turcopolier says:

    Chris Chuba
    Israel cannot accept the possession by Hizbullah of the mere capability to burn Israel down to the ground. You were saying something about crazies? pl

  41. PeterHug says:

    Intel is 80% of the way there…

  42. That’s precisely what makes Hezbollah so threatening to Israel: the fact that they are a *rational* enemy, not a bunch of cannibal-dupes like ISIS. Hezbollah is ultimately what keeps Israel from controlling Lebanon. Every time the IDF has gone up against Hezbollah, they’ve come back chastened and humbled.

  43. BraveNewWorld says:

    Nothing personal but the end of that article is a load of crap. They demand to see the remains if it was a SAM missile but not if it is a scud? The truth appears to be Arrow is trigger happy and you can bankrupt the US by firing small missiles at it all day. The Israelis are just covering up the fact they aren’t perfect like they like to claim.

  44. Peter AU says:

    It seems Hezbolla commander Badie Hamya was the target. Palmyra or Quneitra?
    According to Haaretz this is the first time IDF has acknowlaged a strike across the border into Syria so something out of the ordinary happened.

  45. Peter in Toronto says:

    Agreed. This most egregious violation (striking targets in direct proximity to Russian operations) reveals how inept and incapable both the Russians and Syrians are in regards to defense of their own airspace. I very much doubt that the S-300 was deliberately left idle.
    I believe that the systems in place were defeated by Israeli jamming and spoofing efforts that coincided with the air strike.
    Yet more evidence that Russia is a second-rate military force.

  46. confusedponderer says:

    “That’s three attacks at or near the same Syrian military facility in the past four months”
    It would probably be interesting to know what got the Israelis to attack that facility three times. Why three times? Didn’t the attack work? Was the damage repaired? What was the actual target?
    What is in this facility – a store of modern weapons? An office? A barrack? A factory? A training center? Nothing?
    Certainly, bombing Syria didn’t aim at winning Assad to become a friend of Israel. If causing friendship was the plan it was a dumb idea and failed three times. Or was the point to make a threat other than treating hurt IS folks in Israel?
    Even under Netanyahu the Israelis usually bomb for reasons – usually to destroy things or to remind others of Israeli tactical abilities. I wonder what’s Israeli motive is.

  47. BraveNewWorld says:

    “”Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Sunday threatened to destroy Syrian air defense systems after they fired ground-to-air missiles at Israeli warplanes carrying out strikes. ”
    It would appear Liberman just delivered the next lesson. Maybe this is bluff. But I have been playing various scenarios in my head of what happens if the Israelis do try to take out Syria’s air defences. Most scenarios escalate to the US vs Russia level pretty quickly.

  48. Andy says:

    The timeline for an airstrike like this is measured in terms of minutes. The time required or Syrian air defenses to react is even less. In short, there isn’t time to craft a message, subtle or otherwise, when the decision to fire missiles or not needs to happen very quickly. The only way the Syrians could have intentionally sent some kind of message by firing missiles is if they new the Israelis were coming or they preplanned some response. If they knew the Israelis were coming, why not actually make an effort to shoot them down? If this was a preplanned response (ie. standing orders to get missiles in the air during the next Israeli attack), then the theory might have some credence. But there’s no evidence of that here.

  49. “Charly” – agree about the high output but in practice getting it requires industrial farming and large units. There are so many minuses to industrial forming – social, environmental, quality – that even some consumers are wary of it. Maybe that’s the way it’s going to have to go for non-western countries but it’s still a pity to see them forced to follow us down that road.

  50. charly says:

    The question is if you want to pay $4 or $1 for a liter milk. The old methods are just that much more expensive.

  51. Cee says:

    CNN reported that Israel is threatening Syria if their jets are fired on again. Well dammit, don’t fly over Syria again. I hope they are blown to dust if they do it again.
    The story was followed by an interview with an elderly victim of the Holocaust who was asked why they were hated. Please.
    See my first sentence.
    Historically Ziounist leadership has created hatred that put everyone in peril and that hasn’t changed.

  52. Yes, that’s the rub. For me, I’ll take the $4.
    Much the same problem as the problem that never gets discussed when off-shoring is in question. Prices do have to go up as a consequence and the only way to cope with that is to reduce the income gap. Not just between the cronies and the rest of us, but between the better off and the low income groups. Since the better off have more political clout that looks like a long shot. But it’s the only sensible way to go, if it can be done.
    Though, just to soften the blow to the wealthier consumer, I do think that all the dairy farmers I know who’ve gone out of milk over the last few years could have managed to stay in business on a retail price of considerably less than $4, particularly if the distribution costs could be reduced.

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