As Syrian ruler Bashar Assad stood before parliament in Damascus Sunday, June 3, declaring, “Not even monsters could have carried out the Houla massacre,” rebels attacked a Syrian Air Force base east of the southern town of Deraa opposite the Israeli Golan border – their first such attack in the 14-month uprising,
debkafile’s military sources report. Several rebel bands firing mortars set fire to fighter aircraft and assault helicopters in their hangars and ripped up runways at the As Suwayda air base.
The burning warplanes were a strategic bull’s eye for the anti-Assad revolt.
The air base they attacked is Syria’s southernmost air facility. It is positioned to be available for backing up the Syrian units posted on the Golan border opposite Israeli forces – the 5th, 7th, and 10th Divisions. Arrayed behind them in reserve is the 9th Division, the only one the regime has never enlisted for operations to crush the revolt.
The air fleet housed at As Suwayda is there to provide air cover for Syrian border units in the event of a war with Israel and engage Israeli warplanes coming into to attack the divisions on the ground. It is also entrusted with providing air cover for the forces posted in the Jordanian and Iraqi border sectors.
No information was immediately available about the number or types of aircraft destroyed by the rebels or casualties. The Syrian state media have not disclosed the incident.
In northern Syria, our military sources reveal that in the last few days the rebels are showing up with a new piece of war materiel, improvised armored vehicles sporting anti-air rockets or heavy machine guns. They are capable of downing the aircraft or combat helicopters the regime is increasingly sending to attack the heavily embattled protest centers in that region.
These APC’s are essentially Toyota pickups fitted with steel plates to protect teams of three rebel fighters each behind the rockets and machine guns. Their homemade APCs are dubbed “T-HOMS 75.”