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Syria ships Scuds to Hizbullah

This is a discussion on Syria ships Scuds to Hizbullah within the Army & Security Forces forum, part of the Global Defense & Military category; Syria is shipping Scud missiles to Hezbollah By Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel Tags: Israel news Two reports from recent ...


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Old April 15th, 2010   #1
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Syria ships Scuds to Hizbullah

Syria is shipping Scud missiles to Hezbollah
By Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel
Tags: Israel news


Two reports from recent days in a Kuwaiti daily shed new light on the recent tension between Israel and Syria and Lebanon. According to the newspaper Al-Rai Al-Aam, Syria has recently shipped ballistic missiles of the Scud type to Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon.

The newspaper further reported that the United States administration has postponed "until further notice" the appointment of a new ambassador to Damascus. The U.S. has not posted an ambassador in Syria since 2005, and the appointment of Ambassador Robert Ford was supposed to get Senate approval on Monday, but did not.

According to the Kuwaiti newspaper, the decision to postpone the appointment was made following the transfer of truckloads of scud missiles from Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon, in a shipment sanctioned by the Syrian government. The report is based on quotes from American sources who spoke with Al-Rai Al-Aam's Washington reporter.

The report added that Syria trained Hezbollah fighters in the use of Scud missiles and advanced anti-aircraft missiles last summer, on its soil. The exact type of Scud missile was not specified.

Scud B missiles have a range of up to 300 kilometers, which means they can reach most of Israel. Scud C and D missiles can reach as far south as Eilat.

The report says that Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, passed the Syrian leadership a message from the U.S. administration when he visited Damascus earlier this month. Kerry asked for explanations about the relationship between Syria and Hezbollah, and voiced reservations over Syrian support for the Shi'ite organization.

The American source told the reporter the kind of weapons transported to Hezbollah could start a new war with Israel.

Tensions between Syria, Israel and Lebanon came to the fore most recently in late January, when Israel and Syria traded verbal blows and American and Israeli officials voiced concerns about Hezbollah rearming with the help of Syria and Iran. At the peak of the tension, the Israel Defense Forces held a prescheduled military drill.

However, Israel clarified to the Assad regime that it had no intention of attacking Syria, and even went as far as excluding reserves mobilization from the drill, so as not to alarm the Syrians even further. The steps appear to have had some effect, as tensions eased the following month and comments from all parties became more restrained.

Nevertheless, one of the central issues in the northern arena remains Hezbollah's plans to avenge the 2008 assassination of its senior operative Imad Mughniyeh, which it blames on Israel.

The organization is also building up its stock of advanced Syrian and Iranian weaponry; Israel has voiced particular concern that the organization might acquire anti-aircraft weaponry that would make it difficult for the Israeli Air Force to fly over Lebanon.

Moreover, Hezbollah's arsenal is estimated to contain tens of thousands of rockets capable of reaching nearly any target in Israel. There was a dramatic improvement in the rockets' range, precision and strength despite UN Resolution 1701, which stabilized the northern front but has failed to prevent weapon smuggling.

Israel is closely following the weapon smuggling, and continues to issue warnings. However, Netanyahu's government will find it hard to justify to the international community and even to the public at home a military move to keep the enemies from rearming, which could trigger a Third Lebanon War.

Posted by Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel on April 13, 2010


Looks like Hizbullah has added a new weapon to their standoff ballistic arsenal. This could add a new layer of complications if Israel ever moved to destroy Iran's nuclear facilities. Hizbullah's rocket forces were surprisingly successful when paired with a stubborn tactical defense in 2006. Could the addition of Scud missiles, with larger payloads and greater accuracy than anything they've launched before potentially shift the balance towards deterrence?
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Old April 15th, 2010   #2
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We're talking about the munitions, not the launchers right? Like with the Grad missiles it's typically the missiles, not the entire BM-21 system. I have a hard time imagining this: http://goatmilk.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/scud3a.jpg operated by Hezbollah fighters.

If all they have are munitions, it means they need targetting systems, and improvised launchers. These aren't small missiles, so it'll be curious to see how they make them work. Additionally, given the small area they operate in and complete Israeli air superiority, I'm not sure how they would go about hiding or protecting the launchers shortly before and after launch. In the event of hostilities, Israeli aircraft would permanently be in the air.
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Old April 15th, 2010   #3
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I'd be very surprised if this report is true, BM-21's and rockets are one thing, but Scuds are a different matter. Assuming Hezbollah learn to operate the Scuds any Scud attack on Israel will surely led to reprisals on Syria. Ironicly with Patriot and Arrow the Israelis will be better equipped to handle Scuds rather than the unguided rockets Hezbollah has used in the past. Hezbollah I think would be better off getting it's hands on plenty of MANPADs to deal with low level Israeli aircraft and helicopters.
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Old April 15th, 2010   #4
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I have seen photos of Grads set up in the back of a Datsun pickup truck...does that count?

Iran and Syria have smaller tactical ballistic missiles that might suit Hizbullah's situation better than Scuds, but I wonder...Scuds are a very symbolic weapon to Israelis, no? They represent the most sophisticated attack on their soil (Saddam during Gulf War '91) by an Arab country since the Yom Kippur War. So you may be right, this could be a scare tactic.
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Old April 15th, 2010   #5
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Its a joke!! Syria can have much better use for its Scuds. What effectiveness can a small fighting outfit like the Hizbollah, probably a few thousand strong, achieve by obtaining Scuds? Plus its not a full time army, rather most of its fighting force is kept in reserve and lead normal lives. How would they cope with the mammoth task of manning and hiding their arsenal of Scuds with this little active force? And their task is even more difficult considering the geography and the little area they operate in.

What tactical advantage can Scuds give when Israel lies just a stone throw away from South Lebanon? And "truckloads" of Scuds?? Doesn't sound quite right to me.

Worst job of propaganda ever!!
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Old April 15th, 2010   #6
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Its a joke!! Syria can have much better use for its Scuds. What effectiveness can a small fighting outfit like the Hizbollah, probably a few thousand strong, achieve by obtaining Scuds? Plus its not a full time army, rather most of its fighting force is kept in reserve and lead normal lives. How would they cope with the mammoth task of manning and hiding their arsenal of Scuds with this little active force? And their task is even more difficult considering the geography and the little area they operate in.

What tactical advantage can Scuds give when Israel lies just a stone throw away from South Lebanon? And "truckloads" of Scuds?? Doesn't sound quite right to me.

Worst job of propaganda ever!!
Scuds would bring Jerusalem within range, as well as just about every other Israeli city for that matter. Iranian operators have been stationed in Lebanon to train Hizbullah in the operation of the Fajr-5, is it so far-fetched to think that the know-how could be proliferated along with the Scuds?

But it very well could be propaganda from either side. Israel may wish to take the pressure off itself. A story like this could shift the public (especially the U.S.) away from thinking about
what's been touted as stubborn moves by the Israeli gov't and towards a more "they are a beleaguered nation" mentality.
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Old April 15th, 2010   #7
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Scuds would bring Jerusalem within range, as well as just about every other Israeli city for that matter. Iranian operators have been stationed in Lebanon to train Hizbullah in the operation of the Fajr-5, is it so far-fetched to think that the know-how could be proliferated along with the Scuds?

But it very well could be propaganda from either side. Israel may wish to take the pressure off itself. A story like this could shift the public (especially the U.S.) away from thinking about
what's been touted as stubborn moves by the Israeli gov't and towards a more "they are a beleaguered nation" mentality.
Agreed. Any guerilla force would go crazy to get their hands on a couple of Scuds. I presume it is no different for Hizbollah. "Long range" missiles (as the media puts it) capable of hitting anywhere in Israel would be their dream come true.

But first, I would request that we not draw parallels between Scuds and the rockets that Hizbollah had stockpiled or used in the past. The Fajr-5, or whatever the Hizbollah calls it, is merely an artillery rocket. Same goes for every other variant they have used in the Summer War.

But when we talk about Scuds, we are talking about serious logistical issues. These things cannot be launched from the back of a pick-up truck or some improvised/makeshift platform. Plus, it becomes difficult to follow the "shoot-and-scoot" tactics to save the launchers. Sure the Iraqis had done a great job during the first Gulf War, but we should keep in mind that the area from which Hizbollah operates is just a speck compared to the Iraqi landmass. So "scud hunting" would be a cakewalk for the IAF, assuming the Hizbollah do have scuds. Moreover, the entire launch cycle for scuds can reach over 90 minutes, making them even easier to spot. In short, my argument is that Hizbollah getting scuds doesn't seem to make any significant shift in the balance of power. With that in mind, I wonder why Syria would unnecessarily take such a risk, given the fact that it has been enjoying some thawing in international relations lately.
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Old April 15th, 2010   #8
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Agreed. Any guerilla force would go crazy to get their hands on a couple of Scuds. I presume it is no different for Hizbollah. "Long range" missiles (as the media puts it) capable of hitting anywhere in Israel would be their dream come true.

But first, I would request that we not draw parallels between Scuds and the rockets that Hizbollah had stockpiled or used in the past. The Fajr-5, or whatever the Hizbollah calls it, is merely an artillery rocket. Same goes for every other variant they have used in the Summer War.

But when we talk about Scuds, we are talking about serious logistical issues. These things cannot be launched from the back of a pick-up truck or some improvised/makeshift platform. Plus, it becomes difficult to follow the "shoot-and-scoot" tactics to save the launchers. Sure the Iraqis had done a great job during the first Gulf War, but we should keep in mind that the area from which Hizbollah operates is just a speck compared to the Iraqi landmass. So "scud hunting" would be a cakewalk for the IAF, assuming the Hizbollah do have scuds. Moreover, the entire launch cycle for scuds can reach over 90 minutes, making them even easier to spot. In short, my argument is that Hizbollah getting scuds doesn't seem to make any significant shift in the balance of power. With that in mind, I wonder why Syria would unnecessarily take such a risk, given the fact that it has been enjoying some thawing in international relations lately.
Well said. I didn't mean to draw a parallel between SRBMs and rockets. While the "Hizbullah Model," as the folks at the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center seem to have named it, involves constant upgrade and stockpile of short-range rockets and perhaps missiles, Scuds are light years from what constitutes the bulk of their current arsenal, basically Russian-developed barrage rockets fired one-at-a-time or in small groups. And no Datsun is going to be a launch vehicle for a Scud.

As you alluded to, I guess there is a reason why non-state actors don't often get their hands on SRBMs They require expertise, territory, defense systems, and a certain level of parity with or isolation from whomever they deem an enemy.

Also, Hizbullah is reportedly claiming that while the Scuds were delivered, they were "old and unusable."


Hizbullah admits receiving Syrian scuds
By JPOST STAFF AND ASSOCIATED PRESS
15/04/2010 14:54

Group accuses Israel of blowing incident out of proportion.
Talkbacks (18)

Hizbullah sources confirmed Thursday that the terror group received a shipment of Scud missiles from Syria, the Kuwaiti paper Al-Rai reported.

According to the report, the missiles were claimed to be old and unusable. Hizbullah also accused Israel of blowing the incident out of proportion in order to provoke a media ruckus.

The sources added, "Our organization has many surface-to-surface missiles spread across all of Lebanon, in case Israel attacks the country again.”

In spite of this confirmation, the Syrian Foreign Ministry denied the reports, saying Israel was trying to stoke tensions in the Middle East and could be setting the stage for a possible Israeli "aggression" to avoid Middle East peace requirements.

Thursday's Syrian statement comes after President Shimon Peres accused Syria of supplying the Lebanese guerrillas with Scuds for the first time.

Israeli defense officials also have said they believe Hizbullah has Scud missiles, and that their introduction could alter the strategic balance with the Islamic guerrilla group.

In an effort to prevent a new conflict, Al-Rai reported Monday that the US State Department summoned the Syrian ambassador in Washington, Imad Mustafa, and warned him that war could break out if the weapons shipments were not stopped.

At the same time, according to the Wall Street Journal, the IDF came very close recently to attacking a convoy carrying weapons from Syria to Lebanon, but at the last moment decided against it.

The possibility that Syria would transfer Scud missiles to Hizbullah is not a new fear in the Israeli defense establishment.

According to the Kuwaiti daily Al-Rai, Israel sent warnings to Syria through Turkey and Qatar that it would “bomb Lebanese and Syrian targets in case the missiles crossed the border and reached Hizbullah.”

In related news, Col. Ronen Cohen, former head of the Northern Front in Military Intelligence and the current chief intelligence officer for the IDF’s Central Command, said in a research paper that an Israeli bombing of Lebanese national infrastructure would likely unite the Lebanese people behind Hizbullah and its leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah.

Last edited by rmnp_ccc; April 15th, 2010 at 04:44 PM. Reason: spelling continuity
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Old April 15th, 2010   #9
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I have seen photos of Grads set up in the back of a Datsun pickup truck...does that count?
It would be helpful to see the photos (I'm not doubting your word, rather I'm interested in what the setup looked like as Grad has artillery style sights that require a certain level of coordination and know-how to use effectively).

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Iran and Syria have smaller tactical ballistic missiles that might suit Hizbullah's situation better than Scuds, but I wonder...Scuds are a very symbolic weapon to Israelis, no? They represent the most sophisticated attack on their soil (Saddam during Gulf War '91) by an Arab country since the Yom Kippur War. So you may be right, this could be a scare tactic.
I think that given both their admission, and their attempt to downplay the issue, it was actually a question of capability, rather then propaganda. I don't think it's unbelievable to think that Hezbollah got some old Scud munitions from Syria, thinking they could make some sort of improvised launcher for them, and then upon receiving them discovered that the missiles are old, in poor shape, and too complex to operate. I think what's more fascinating is the level of complexity and strategic planning that Hezbollah has achieved, and more importantly the effect of deterrence that they have partially created by both having the arsenal of missiles to launch, and the ability to control it's various elements to coordinate not only when to launch, but when not to launch. Since the end of the war, there have been very few missile attacks.

EDIT: After a little reading, I've found that there are even reports of SA-8 (OSA) SAMs operationalized by Hezbollah. Given their previous use of highly modern AT-13 and AT-14 systems (i.e. they had ways of getting their hands on literally brand new missiles and technology), their use of the C-701, and their modification of existing munitions with cluster munitions (in some cases simply by stuffing the warhead with ball bearings), and their construction of improvised MLRS both truck mounted and just missile-rack style launchers, I'd say that the chances of them attempting to operationalize Scuds aren't all that low.
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Old April 15th, 2010   #10
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It would be helpful to see the photos (I'm not doubting your word, rather I'm interested in what the setup looked like as Grad has artillery style sights that require a certain level of coordination and know-how to use effectively).


I think that given both their admission, and their attempt to downplay the issue, it was actually a question of capability, rather then propaganda. I don't think it's unbelievable to think that Hezbollah got some old Scud munitions from Syria, thinking they could make some sort of improvised launcher for them, and then upon receiving them discovered that the missiles are old, in poor shape, and too complex to operate. I think what's more fascinating is the level of complexity and strategic planning that Hezbollah has achieved, and more importantly the effect of deterrence that they have partially created by both having the arsenal of missiles to launch, and the ability to control it's various elements to coordinate not only when to launch, but when not to launch. Since the end of the war, there have been very few missile attacks.
That seems to be a key reason why Hizbullah has pulled so far ahead of Hamas, PIJ, and the other groups is Gaza. Hizbullah has full control over launches and are somehow buffered from full reprisal. Any ceasefire for the purpose of reorganization or stockpiling in Gaza is under constant threat due to the hundreds of rogue rocketeers that launch a rocket during lunchtime. They also are not blockaded and have easy supply access from friendly neighbors.

The article I found with the photo is too large to attach here, but I can send it to your profile. Once I dug it up and really examined it the launcher looks too short to house Grads. It may be Quds rockets, since the truck belonged to Palestinian Islamic jihad. I'll keep searching through my sources, it seems I saw another photo along the way.
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Old April 16th, 2010   #11
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I just find it very strange that Syria has taken the risk of giving Hezbollah Scuds. In addition to preventing Syria from regaining the Golan , which is its main objective as part of a deal with Israel, any future use of Scuds could also be counter productive, leading to the Israelis advancing even further into Lebanon than in 2006 and launching reprisal attacks on Syria. Another factor is that of denialbility. Whislt it's possible to deny suppling Hezbollah with ATGWs and other gear, no denial is possible with Scuds.

Whilst Scuds would certainly give Hezbollah the ability to target all of of Israel, to really make a difference, Hezbollah is going to need lots and lots of Scuds, not just a token few.
Another factor is that with Arrow, Patriot and Green Pine, the Israelis are more capable of shooting down Scuds rather than the unguided rockets used in the past.

On a side note, does anyone know if Syria has received the Iskander and when were the last deliveries of Scuds made to Syria?
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Old April 16th, 2010   #12
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Syria did not receive the Iskander. From what i can tell their last Scud purchase was in late '91.

So far only Russia has the Iskander, and in limited quantities (1-2 missile brigades).
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Old April 16th, 2010   #13
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If they have those missles, where on earth is Hezballa going to hide those missles? Easy target.
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Old April 16th, 2010   #14
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Worst job of propaganda ever!![/QUOTE]

Agree, it doesn't make sense, they would stick out in the open, and are easy big targets for the IAF.
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Old April 29th, 2010   #15
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Scuds are Duds

While in Iraq with the 82nd ABN in Operation Desert Storm, there was a heck of a lot of hoopla in the media over Iraq's mobile SCUD launchers. Press conferences were held on almost a daily basis assuring the public - particularly the Israelis, that we were furiously hunting down every SCUD launcher we could get our hands on. In reality, there wasn't any SCUD hunting going on. While with Al Sadr's Mahdi Army at the onset of the "Shiite Rebellion" near An Nasasyria, Iraq, we were approached by several rebels who had captured a SCUD launcher and 7 missiles. They wanted us to either show 'em how to use it or come and get it. The battalion commander told them that he would, "give 'em a case of MREs if they bring it to us." That's how concerned HE was about the SCUD threat. Flying water heaters, I called them. Shortly thereafter, we were told to stand-down while Saddam's "retreating army" began exterminating a quarter-of-a-million Shiite Muslims in southern Iraq with artillery, mortar fire and rotor aircraft which Gen. Schwartzkopf had allowed Saddam to keep. I'll never forget that day in April, 1991. We let a lot of people down in southern Iraq who will never forget it either. Sorry, folks. I would have followed you Sadrists all the way to Baghdad. Strike Hold!!!
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