Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Israeli Air Force Chief Warns of a Surprise War with Syria

Sounds like things could get really serious really fast:

"If tomorrow Syria collapses, and I am not saying that will happen, we could find ourselves in the thick of it very fast and in great number," IAF commander Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel said, illustrating how the nature of surprise wars had changed for Israel since the Yom Kippur War in 1973.

"Because the immense arsenal parked there, just waiting to be looted, could spread with each gust of wind and you find yourself having to act very fast and in great quantity," he said, alluding to Syrian President Bashar Assad's sizable stockpile of both conventional and chemical weapons. "These days a number of scenarios can lead to a surprise war."

Speaking at a conference in Herzliya, Eshel said that aerial superiority was the key to victory in such a war, and that swift triumph on the field would be of supreme strategic importance. That was why, he said, the Assad regime understood had spent billions of dollars on anti-aircraft missiles, including advanced S-300 batteries due to arrive from Russia.

Eshel said the Russian-made surface-to-air system would boost Syria's confidence and may lead to more aggressive behavior toward Israel.
He cautioned that the regime could fall at any moment, and that many groups were resolved to lay their hands on Assad's weapons.

"It doesn't mean we'll act, but it does mean we have to be ready with aircraft and defensive batteries," Eshel said. "After all, we won't be told 'You have two weeks to prepare for a war.' We'll have to brace for rockets from Gaza and Lebanon and from further afield. And if we're not prepared, it'll show we've failed to internalize the lessons of the Yom Kippur War."

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