Assad Is in Moscow with Half-Billion Iranian Dollars to Upgrade His Army

Syrian president Bashar Asad arrived in Moscow Monday night, Dec. 18, with two items for his host, President Vladimir Putin: A shopping list for weapons and half a billion dollars put up by Iran – in cash if needed – to purchase Russian arms.
In recent months, Tehran has been dispensing colossal sums to its Middle East allies and pawns, mostly to stock up on war materiel and upgrade their military strength. (The Palestinian Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniya alone was awarded quarter of a billion dollars for his war chest when he visited Tehran last week.)
Putin and Russian defense minister Sergey Lavrov will receive their Syrian visitor to wind up negotiations on the arms transaction. The groundwork is in place. A week ago, a large Russian military delegation ended a 10-stay in Damascus where its members studied Syria’s requests for Russian systems and checked to see if they matched the requirements of the Syrian army.
Damascus was advised in advance that certain surface systems on request would available. But the transaction would include sophisticated Tor-M1 systems, supplies of which began reaching Iran last month, together with thousands of AT-14 anti-tank and SA 5 Gammon anti-air missiles. Damascus also wants to commission Russian military industry to upgrade all 4,500 of its outdated Soviet-era T-62, T-72 and T-80 tanks.
Israel’s head of research in AMAN-military intelligence, Brig-Gen Yossi Baidetz was referring to this huge Russian-Syrian arms deal bankrolled by Iran when he warned ministers Sunday Dec. 10, that Asad was preparing his army for a summer war against Israel. However, prime minister Ehud Olmert and defense minister Amir Peretz preferred to keep the details of the transaction dark and play down the Syrian threat, while refraining from taking Asad up on his pressing demands for peace talks.
According to debkafile‘s military experts, Asad’s generals have drawn fully on the lessons of Hizballah’s war against Israel in July and August and made fitting adjustments. The Syrian army is in the process of being rearmed with large quantities of anti-tank rockets and tactical changes have been introduced in the armed forces 12 divisions.
Before the Lebanon war, only one company in every Syrian brigade was equipped with anti-tank rockets and anti-air shoulder-borne missiles. Since then, thousands of these missiles are being distributed to every Syrian unit. Our military sources report that all five Syrian divisions stationed on the Golan frontier with Israel have been issued with these anti-tank and anti-air rockets.
The Kornet or AT-14 anti-tank rocket is wire-guided to hit targets with high precision at a distance of up to 3.5 kilometers as the crow flies. It can pierce 1,100-1,200 mm of armor.
In the Lebanon war, Hizballah deployed the Kornet delivered by the Syrian army with great effectiveness against the Israeli Chariot tanks, inflicting a high level of casualties. Moscow has strenuously denied letting the Kornet missiles sold to Syria reach Hizballah’s hands. Officials there refused to admit that the rockets which struck Israel tanks in the war were Russian made, even after an Israeli military delegation headed by Ilan Mizrahi, director of the national security council brought to Moscow exhibits of Kornet missile parts collected from the battlefield and photographs in support Israel’s complaint.
The Americans had their first experience of the Russian Kornet in Iraq in 2003 when it knocked US Abrams M1 tanks out of action. They are now widely used by Iraq’s Sunni insurgents.
As for the formidable Russian Tor-M1anti-air, anti-missile missile system Syria will acquire after the initial deliveries to Iran, our military sources describe it as a mobile, integrated air defense system, designed for operating at medium-, low- and very low- altitudes, against fixed/rotary wing aircraft, UAVs, guided missiles and precision-guided weapons, cruise missiles, helicopters, and drones in an intensive aerial jamming environment.
The missile is also effective night and day and in all weathers against targets traveling at 700 kph from a distance of 25 km and destroying them 12 km before they reach their destinations.
Eight missiles are mounted on a transport launcher vehicle, with radar, fire control systems and a battery command post enabling each combat vehicle to operate autonomously. Each fire unit can engage and launch missiles against two separate targets from stationary positions or on the move. Its radar can collect data simultaneously on 48 targets, select the most menacing and respond within 5-8 seconds. Its crews are protected against nuclear, chemical and biological attacks.

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