Syrian Official: War with Israel will be Ballistic

Syria is planning a prolonged missile war gainst Israeli civilian infrastructure, a senior Syrian defense official tells Defense News Weekl

Gil Ronen ,

Syria sees the next war with Israel as involving missile attacks on civilian infrastructure and front-line guerilla warfare, an anonymous senior official in the Syrian Ministry of Defense told Defense News Weekly, in an interview appearing Monday. Syria prefers to avoid a direct, "classic" confrontation with Israel, he said. Instead, the next war will involve Katyusha rocket and ballistic missiles that will target strategic points in Israel, especially civilian infrastructure.

The official said that the war will not be limited to a single strike, but will be protracted in nature. "This will be a war of attrition, which the Israelis are not good at," he explained. The conflict, he said, "will be more like a war between cities than a war on the battlefield."

According to Arab affairs expert Dr. Guy Bechor, the Syrian assessment is a result of the Second Lebanon War. After that war, the Syrians understood that they do not need a large ground force to defeat Israel, but rather missiles aimed at dense Israeli population centers. For the past two years the Syrians have been engaged in massive acquisitions from Russia, after an $11 billion debt was partially forgiven by Russia in 2005, and partially covered by Iran.

Following the unimpressive performance by the IDF in last year’s war, Bechor explains, Syria beg
The conflict, he said, will be more like a war between cities than a war on the battlefield.
an equipping itself with advanced anti-aircraft missiles, anti-tank missiles and cruise missiles.

The Syrian army numbers 650,000 soldiers, including 354,000 reservists, according to Defense News. Its tanks are outdated Soviet models, however, and its air force is inferior to Israel's.

The London-based daily Al-Sharq al-Awsat recently reported that Syria has deployed Chinese C-802 cruise missiles, which it acquired from Iran. In addition, Russia has expressed its willingness to sell the Syrians its Iskander missile, which has a range of 280 kilometers, more than enough to strike at any destination in Israel. The missile features an optical GPS navigational system that allows operators to guide it to their targets.

Al-Sharq al-Awsat also reported Saturday that Iran secretly promised Syria it would provide $1 billion for buying advanced weapons and assist it with nuclear research and the development of chemical weapons, in exchange for a Syrian promise not to enter diplomatic negotiations with Israel. However, Iran's foreign ministry spokesman dismissed the report as a "media game" and asked how the media could know about the deal if it was confidential.

Arab affairs experts also questioned the veracity of the report, noting that it was written by an exiled Iranian who may simply have wanted to portray Iran's leadership in a bad light.