It is growingly hard for Iran to refrain from counterstriking Israel from Syria not to look as if it has given in. However, there are several factors that contain Iran. As EADaily reported earlier, on May 10, the Israel Defense Forces fired missiles at 35 facilities in Syria that are connected with the Iranian Al-Quds Brigades. Russian military expert Yuri Lyamin commented to EADaily on whether the Israeli strikes caused much damage, if the Iranian forces can strike back and to what extent the Syrian air defense forces can protect the country’s territory.
“Speaking of damage, one must take into account that the Iranian presence in Syria does differ from the Russian one. Iran has no such large bases like Russia’s Khmeimim, and most forces controlled by it in Syria is represented by light infantry with scarce numbers of heavy weaponry and artillery. They mostly base upon the current voluminous Syrian military infrastructure. Iranian military advisers and units controlled by them are dispersed in positions on the frontlines, numerous strong points, Syrian military bases and so on,” says the expert.
That is why, says Yuri Lyamin, the Israeli attacks are bothering and damaging, but they are not disastrous. However, the more such attacks take place, the harder it is for Iran to refrain from counterstrikes, as it is seen as lack of determination,” the experts says.
“The more logical response could be a strike against an Israeli air bases. The problem is that for it Iran first needs to deliver and install in Syria its short-range ballistic missile systems. Second, such a strike can provoke more large-scale strikes from Israel and affect negatively the talks with European countries regarding the nuclear deal with Iran,” Lyamin continued.
The Syrian air defense cannot provide powerful protection for Iranians, however, it does not let Israel act in the Syrian air space absolutely unpunished. To prove this, Lyamin cites as an example loss of an Israeli F-16 fighter jet in one of previous Israeli strikes this February.
“It makes Israel engage significant forces in direct counteraction to the Syrian air defense,” says the military expert adding that in the confrontation with Israel the Syrian air defense has several weak points that prevent it from a more effective response to the attacks. “First of all, the problem is that Syria has no up-to-date long-range systems. Syria has not completed modernization of its air defense system before the war, it has not got the S-300 systems, so, its only long-range surface-to-air missile systems are outdated S-200VE,” he notes. Lyamin adds that the first problem provokes the second one: “The Israeli Air Forces can strike Syria with a minimum threat for itself from its air space or the Lebanese air space which is out of range of the most up-to-date Syrian air defense systems like Buk-M2E and others. Meanwhile, the landscape in Lebanon is favorable for Israeli strikes crossing the whole territory of the country. The Syrian air forces can hardly do anything here.”