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Military balance shifts: Syria shoots down Israeli F-16

Syria’s success in shooting down an Israeli F-16 shows the marked improvement in combat capability of the Syrian military

Alexander Mercouris

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The shooting down by Syria of an Israeli F-16 shortly after Israel carried out an air strike on Syrian territory has provoked world headlines, as well as a mixture of consternation and threats from Israel.

There is much about this incident which is unclear, but the central fact about it is that an Israeli F-16 has been shot down by the Syrian military, and that its wreckage fell on Israeli territory.

The Israeli claim is that this happened after an Israeli air strike on an Iranian drone trailer near Palmyra, which the Israelis say they carried out in response to an intrusion of an Iranian drone from Syria into their airspace.

The Israelis claim to have brought down this drone and are offering to display it.

Supposedly Syrian air defences responded to this Israeli air strike by shooting down the Israeli F-16 with anti aircraft missiles.

Israel claims that in retaliation it then carried out a further air strike on Syrian territory.  Reports suggest that this was against Syrian military facilities near Damascus.  Here is how the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports them.

[Syrian] Opposition sources in Damascus said that an Israeli strike targeted a control tower of a Syrian military airfield near Damascus, and a weapons depot near the Syrian capital.

This Israeli account of the whole incident can be found in Haaretz and can be read here.

The Syrians for their part say that they shot down two Israeli aircraft, and not just one.

Meanwhile Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is said to be engaging in “urgent consultations” with senior Israeli officials, and the Israelis have published threats warning that “Iran and Syria are playing with fire”.

However, in reality – despite these characteristically blood-curdling threats – Israel’s response has been muted, with Israel now saying that it does not wish to “escalate” the situation.

……the IDF [Israeli Defence Forces – AM] insisted that Israel does not seek escalation with the two states [ie. between Israel and Syria -AM]. “We are willing, prepared and capable to exact a heavy price from anyone that attacks us, however we are not looking to escalate the situation,” the IDF said, insisting that what they’ve done was merely “a defensive effort triggered by an Iranian act of aggression and we are defending our airspace our sovereignty and civilians.”

What is going on?

Firstly, Israeli air strikes on targets located within Syrian and Lebanese territory are nothing new.  They have been taking place regularly ever since the Six Day War of 1967.

Secondly, though the Israelis have identified the Iranians as somehow responsible for the original drone incident, there is no independent corroboration of this, and on the face of it it seems unlikely.

It is not obvious why Iran would want to send a drone over Israeli territory.  By contrast it is entirely obvious why Syria might want to do so.

Israeli air raids on Syria, and Israeli air support for Jihadi groups fighting the Syrian army in Syria (especially in the Golan Heights) give the Syrian military an obvious motive for flying surveillance drones over Israel in order to find out what the Israelis are doing there.

Syria is known to import weapons from Iran, and surveillance drones – whose technology Iran is known to have perfected, and which Iran is known to operate in some numbers – are an obvious import.

It is therefore possible – and actually likely – that the drone the Israelis brought down – always assuming of course that it existed, something of which unfortunately one cannot be sure (in the Middle East no-one should ever be assumed to be telling the truth) – was a Syrian drone.

Almost certainly it was of Iranian manufacture, and possibly its operators were Iranians seconded by the Iranian military to the Syrian military, but almost certainly it was carrying out surveillance on behalf of Syria not Iran.

The key point however is that following this alleged incident with the drone the Syrian military successfully shot down an Israeli fighter jet, doing so for the first time since the 1980s, and doing so moreover over Israeli territory, something which I believe has not happened before since the 1973 war.

That indicates a radical shift in the military balance of power between Israel and Syria.

Israel has enjoyed unchallenged control of Middle East air space ever since the 1967 war save for two brief periods: the so-called War of Attrition of 1970 – when its adversary was however the Soviet air defence forces, not the air forces of any of the Arab states – and during the opening days of the 1973 war.

Russian accounts of the air combat between the Israeli and Syrian air forces during the 1982 Lebanon war suggest that it may have been more evenly matched than Israel claimed and the Western media reported at the time.  However there is no doubt that in the end the Israelis successfully asserted their air supremacy over the Syrians in that combat.

Since the arrival of the Russians in Syria in September 2015 that situation has however changed.

The Russian Aerospace Forces based at Khmeimim air base are technologically and in training terms at least the equals of the Israeli air force, even if the Israeli air force heavily outnumbers.

The radars and air defence missile systems the Russians have however deployed to Syria – recently reinforced by the despatch of still more S-400 missile systems there – pose an even bigger potential challenge to Israel’s superiority in Middle East air space over the long term.

However the Russians are not currently Israel’s enemy – Israel and Russia presently have cordial relations – and though this is a worrying development for Israel – especially now that the Russians have decided to establish permanent bases in Syria – it is not a reason for immediate concern.

By contrast the Israelis do perceive Syria as an enemy.  Syria and Israel have in fact been in a formal state of war ever since the state of Israel was founded in 1948.

The fact that the Syrians have therefore demonstrated an ability to shoot down Israeli fighter aircraft will alarm the Israelis considerably.  Moreover there are aspects of this particular incident which will alarm the Israelis even more.

The fact that the F-16 was shot down over Israeli territory suggests either that the original Israeli air strike was carried out from Israeli territory – with the Israelis launching long range stand-off missiles against the alleged drone facility from their own air space – or that the Syrians waited for the Israeli aircraft to return to their bases after the air strike before attacking them.

In either case the Syrians have shown that they are able to track and target Israeli aircraft flying in Israeli air space.

If the Syrians shot down the F-16 in an ambush when it was returning to its base then they have also demonstrated a previously unknown level of tactical skill.

Moreover this development has not come from nowhere.  Here is what I wrote on 20th March 2017 following an uncannily similar incident when Syria also tried to shoot down Israeli aircraft over Israel following an Israeli air strike on a military facility near Palmyra

……..it appears that the Israeli aircraft did not penetrate deep into Syrian territory.  Rather it seems that the Israeli aircraft slipped across the border, almost immediately launched their missiles against their target, and then turned back home…..

The stand-off missiles the Israelis would have used would have been either Popeye missiles or – more probably – longer range Delilah cruise missiles, which undoubtedly do have the range to reach targets near Palmyra from the al-Bureij area.

The Syrians appear to have retaliated by launching S-200 (“SAM-5”) missiles at the Israeli aircraft after the raid as the aircraft were returning home to their bases.

The Syrians seem to have waited until the Israeli aircraft had recrossed the Lebanese border back into Israel before launching their missiles.  The SANA report clearly says that the air defence missiles were launched at the Israeli aircraft whilst they were over “occupied territory”, which might mean the West Bank or the Golan Heights, but more likely is intended to mean Israel itself (Syria has still not recognised Israel and officially considers the whole of Israel to be occupied Palestinian territory)……

The Syrian military is…….becoming significantly stronger, with the incident of the raid showing that technical help from Russia has now made it possible for the Syrians to track and intercept Israeli aircraft over Israeli territory…..

It looks as if the pattern of events today is very similar.

The original Israel attack on this occasion – like the one in March 2017 – was probably against Syria’s giant Tiyas air base, which is the main Syrian military facility near Palmyra.  Possibly it was launched against a drone control and launch facility operating from there if the story of the drone is true.  Most probably – just as was the case in March 2017 – it was carried out at long range with Popeye or Delilah stand off missiles.

Subsequently – just as happened in March 2017 – the Syrians tracked the Israeli aircraft as they were returning to their bases, and then ambushed them by launching long range S-200 anti aircraft missiles against them as they were approaching their bases.

The difference is that whereas in March 2017 the ambush failed, on this occasion it succeeded.

In other words the Syrians have not only demonstrated the technical capability to track and shoot down Israeli aircraft over Israel, which they had already previously demonstrated last March.  They have now also demonstrated the ability to use this capability successfully as well.

That suggests a further improvement in Syrian skill and ability since March.

At this point it is worth adding that this radical improvement in Syrian air defence capabilities is being matched by equally radical improvements in the performance of Syrian ground forces, as they benefit increasingly from Iranian and especially Russian advice, training and technical support.

Whereas in early 2016 – immediately following the start of the Russian intervention in September 2015 – Syrian military advances against Al-Qaeda in western Syria were slow and incremental, being measured in one or two kilometres a day,  today – as the recently completed Idlib offensive shows – the Syrian army is capable of advances of hundreds of kilometres over the course of just a few weeks or even days.

It is this radical improvement in Syrian military capabilities which almost certainly explains the muted Israeli response to the shooting down of their F-16.  The Israelis have not launched the sort of all-out attack on Syrian bases, which their previous history suggests might have been expected from them, because they now fear they will suffer further casualties if they do so.

In other words for the first time in decades an Arab state has demonstrated its ability to defend itself, and has forced Israel to draw back.

That demonstrates a radical shift in the balance of military power in the Middle East, and will cause Israel extreme concern.

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Foolish French President Macron tests Trump’s patience (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 149.

Alex Christoforou

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US President Donald Trump was ridiculed for his nationalist agenda by the very unpopular, globalist French President Emmanuel Macron, in a very public display of disrespect towards the United States and its president.

Macron, in front of world leaders brought together to commemorate the end of World War I, thought it wise to chastise Trump for his ‘America first’ policy, stating that nationalism was “tearing the world apart.”

Trump did find Macron’s smart ass tone to his liking, tweeting out his feeling the minute he landed stateside by reminding his European peers who pays the bills to keep the peace on the continent.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris reflect on Macron’s diplomatic gaffe, which Trump is unlikely to forget anytime soon.

Macron showed his boyish diplomatic skills, for which a man like Trump will make sure a heavy price is paid. The French President will certainly be at the receiving end of a very public and embarrassing dressing down at the hands of Donald Trump.

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Via Zerohedge

What was supposed to be a solemn visit to honor the 16 million soldiers who died during World War I alongside a coterie of world leaders in Paris was overshadowed by a mini-scandal surrounding President Trump’s missing an Armistice ceremony at an American military cemetery for purely cosmetic reasons (Trump reportedly didn’t want to get his hair wet during the ceremony which was held in pouring rain, though the White House maintained that he missed the beginning of the ceremony for security purposes).

Given the media’s focus on Trump’s purported vanity at the expense of nearly every other detail from Trump’s visit, it’s hardly surprising that the president has returned to the US rather agitated, and decided to lash out at his European partners in a series of tweets Monday morning.

While he said that his meetings with fellow world leaders were productive, Trump noted that it’s “never easy” to raise the issue that the US foots most of the bill for military protections in Europe thanks to its outsize shouldering of the cost burden of funding NATO.

Adding insult to injury, the US is paying “hundreds of billions of dollars” for the privilege of “losing hundreds of billions of dollars” with these countries on trade. Trump demanded that, going forward, the US must be treated fairly on military spending and trade.

It is time, Trump said, for these countries to either pony up, or find a way to start protecting themselves.

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Midterm Elections: A Disaster Denied, and What is Coming

The Democrats intend to mount a non-stopping offensive against the President.

The Duran

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Authored by Jeremiah Johnson (nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces ) via SHTFplan.com:


Before the 2016 Presidential Election, and both before and after the inauguration, I wrote specifically about how important the midterm election would be, and the results if the President should lose even one House of Congress.  That happened: the Republicans just lost the House of Representatives. Now that the Democrats control it, not one piece of legislation will pass that is on the President’s agenda. In the supreme act of denial, the Republican party claims the “Blue Wave” was not successful; even the President declared a “victory” with the midterms.

Nothing could be further from the truth, on either count.

The Democrats intend to mount a non-stopping offensive against the President. First, they are going to demand that Mueller go on the attack again. They are already demanding the President’s tax returns. On Thursday, 11-8-18, thousands of people marched in Times Square in New York City in protest of Jeff Sessions’ departure from the White House…although Sessions was the one who tendered a letter of resignation. The mob of protesters carried mass-produced “No one is above the law” placards and signs.

Not one of those Marxists carried those signs when former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton resigned after Benghazi, where a U.S. Consular Outpost of the United States was destroyed, and the U.S. Ambassador and four of his staff murdered.

“Happy Veterans’ Day” is coming up, with the cliché eternal: “Thank you for your service.”

Nobody really cares about it, except the vets. Those who have to work receive time and a half for their pay, and Hallmark makes about another $50 million or so on the cards and gifts…about $10 million of that for the Government to “re-ingest” with the taxes….another day on the endless cycle:

The cycle of spending of disposable income, an indispensable part of the economy and all of the governmental employees on paid federal holiday, solemnly dispensed of at the expense of (to paraphrase Metallica) the government’s “disposable heroes.”

Where were the protests in the streets after Benghazi? Everybody was hidden, because at the time we were under Obama. When Donald Trump was elected President, a “hiatus” was granted from the nonstop march toward socialism/communism that reached a zenith as never before. Now that hiatus is shrinking, as the Communists and Marxists begin new offensives under their playbook “Rules for Radicals,” offensives targeting every area of the society.

Their plan should be obvious: to keep the President “backpedaling” and the economy faltering, in order to set the stage for the 2020 election. All of this I have written about before, and it came to pass with the Midterm elections. If they keep the President on the defense and keep pushing the “social issues,” it will render his administration ineffective…not delivering the change back toward the right that the voters wanted to see in 2016.

The Wall Street Journal published a piece on November 9 entitled Democrats plan to pursue most aggressive gun-control legislation in decades.” They have been receiving plenty of help on this one, with the Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, and the recent murders by a former Marine last week. Here they come again! All of the legislators…with armed protectors paid for by you, mind you…clamoring for the guns. Here’s a piece of it for you:

Democrats say they will pass the most aggressive gun-control legislation in decades when they become the House majority in January, plans they renewed this week in the aftermath of a mass killing in a California bar. Their efforts will be spurred by an incoming class of pro-gun-control lawmakers who scored big in Tuesday’s midterm elections, although any measure would likely meet stiff resistance in the GOP-controlled Senate. Democrats ousted at least 15 House Republicans with “A” National Rifle Association ratings, while the candidates elected to replace them all scored an “F” NRA rating. “This new majority is not going to be afraid of our shadow,” said Mike Thompson, a California Democrat who is chairman of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force. “We know that we’ve been elected to do a job, and we’re going to do it.”

Now of course the argument to this rationale will be that the Senate is needed before a law passes. Yes, we all watched “Schoolhouse Rock” and learned about the three-party system of checks and balances. The problem?  Nothing was accomplished when the Republicans held both houses of Congress, and the Reds and Blues counter one another, and more:

The Democrats’ strategy is not to pass any laws: it is to stir up public controversy, win support of the “Zero” generation, and either force actions through the “tyranny of the majority,” or make it so horrible an arena that it detracts from or prevents any positive efforts and actions from the administration…setting the stage for the 2020 election.

Ocasio-Cortez just entered the House of Representatives at the “sage/sagacious” age of 29, and she is a self-described “democratic socialist” who favors single-payer healthcare, gun control, abolishing border controls, and declared that she would support the impeachment of the President. She was also part of Bernie Sanders’ campaign movement in 2016.

Lenin espoused some “gems” that should be considered. Here is one that falls in line with the “newly discovered wonderful possibility of socialism” the Zero-generation and twenty-somethings have fallen in love with hook, line, and sinker:

“The goal of socialism is communism.”

New York just placed a “democratic socialist” in the White House…a declared socialist, among all of the hidden Marxists camouflaged under the “progressive” or “democratic” monikers.

Gun control, coming at us once again, and once more, a quote from Lenin for you:

“Disarmament is the ideal of socialism. There will be no wars in socialist society; consequently, disarmament will be achieved. But whoever expects that socialism will be achieved without a social revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat is not a socialist. Dictatorship is state power based directly on violence. And in the twentieth century – as in the age of civilization generally – violence means neither a fist nor a club, but troops. To put “disarmament” in the program is tantamount to making the general declaration: “We are opposed to the use of arms.” There is as little Marxism in this as there would be if we were to say: “We are opposed to violence!” – Lenin, “The Disarmament Slogan,” from October of 1916

The next two years should be interesting, to say the least. Keep in mind: the President is not throwing in the towel, however, he has one more year to turn the tide…before he has to campaign. There is still another way, though: I mentioned it in the last article that I wrote. Bush Jr. used this technique successfully when he was trailing Kerry in the polls. Margaret Thatcher used this technique when she was about to be shown the door, and turned it around, remaining in office.

The “technique” is a war, whether a “quickie” (such as the Falklands War…Malvinas, if you prefer), or a protracted one (Iraq “II” where victory was declared within months of started, and it was achieved…with the decades and a half of Military Industrial Complex contracts…and the transition of the United States into a Surveillance and Police State).

The technique is a war, and if you keep abreast of what is going on, you will see that Russia and China are gearing up for a war, the nations are “decoupling” themselves incrementally from the dying fiat-backed Petrodollar, and North Korea is once again raising itself as a nuclear threat (on its own, or encouraged by one or more nations). A war could either suspend elections, or propel the incumbent into a victory based on the populace’s perception of what they need. Remember this last quote from Lenin, and let it sink in good:

“A standing army and police are the chief instruments of state power.” – Lenin, State and Revolution, 1917

The ultimate truth: the elections are akin to the Stock Market, the Dow-Jones Industrial Average. It doesn’t matter how many shares are bought or sold, as long as there are fluctuations and flux. The winners are the brokers, who pocket their commissions on every trade…a sell or a buy. The same exists here. The blue donkeys versus the red elephants. The “tribalism” of men, and their needs of a social order…a cohesive social grouping that reflects what they believe in…is exploited to its maximum advantage. All the while, the paradigm shifts almost imperceptibly, until before you know it….twenty years have elapsed, and you are not looking at the same country anymore.

The “art” is to make the people think they will be getting what they want…dupe them into believing it is something good, when it’s not. It took the blood of heroes to form and defend this nation.  The downfall is precipitated by traitors from within…bleeding the nation white by circumventing existing laws and replacing them with the greatest injustice and threat to personal liberty of all. What is that greatest threat? A foreign enemy? A spontaneous collapse of everything?

No. The greatest threat is the acceptance of the people of the illusion of “social justice,” that really translates into something for nothing by taking from those who have earned, and giving it to those who live within the entitlement cesspool of their own sloth. Such a mentality pervades our society today. In order to save the United States, we have to return to our fundamental values and become an ass-kicking, straight-shooting people who fear God and care for their families, neighbors, and nation once more. If we do this, we may emerge from the coming night as a nation once more. Ready your NVGs, and steel your hearts for the challenge before it arrives…now…at the twilight’s last gleaming.

May Veterans’ Day bring remembrance to your mind, may your heart find peace, and may any who serve in your family be safe and sound.


Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne).  Mr. Johnson is also a Gunsmith, a Certified Master Herbalist, a Montana Master Food Preserver, and a graduate of the U.S. Army’s SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape).  He lives in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with his wife and three cats. You can follow Jeremiah’s regular writings at SHTFplan.com or contact him here.

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Russia’s Next Weapon: A Church

The Russian military plans to build a military church to bolster the spiritual values of its armed forces.

The Duran

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Authored by Michael Peck via The National Interest:


Meet Vladimir Putin’s newest weapon: a church.

The Russian military plans to build a military church to bolster the spiritual values of its armed forces. Construction will soon begin of the Main Church of the Armed Forces, to be erected in Patriot Park outside Moscow, according to Colonel General Andrei Kartapolov, deputy defense minister and chief of the armed forces’ Main Military-Political Directorate, a new organization responsible for political education of the troops.

The “new church will be one more example of the people’s unity around the idea of patriotism, love, and devotion to our Motherland,” Kartapolov told Russian journalists.

To say the church, dubbed by some as the “Khaki Temple,” will have a martial air would be an understatement.

“The walls of the military church are really made in the color of the standard Russian missile system and armored vehicle,” according to the Russian newspaper The Independent [Google English translation here ] “…From the inside, the walls are decorated with paintings with battle scenes from military history and texts from the Holy Scriptures. The projected height is 95 meters [104 feet] and is designed for 6,000 people.”

“Kartapolov is convinced that the modern Russian serviceman cannot be shaped without shaping lofty spirituality in him,” Russian media said. “Speaking about ideology, the deputy head of the military department pointed out that this will be based on knowledge of the history of our Motherland and people and on historical and cultural traditions.”

“Even though the Russian constitution states that ‘no ideology may be established as state or obligatory,’ the Kremlin continues to search for a unifying set of beliefs,” notes the U.S. Army’s Foreign Military Studies Office.

Religion has long played a role in Russian military life, first through the Russian Orthodox Church in Tsarist times, and then—in a secular way—through Communism in Soviet times. “In late imperial Russia, when they began to build garrisons, every regiment sought to build a regimental church, but not a synagogue or mosque,” Roger Reese, an historian at Texas A&M University who has written books on the Tsarist and Soviet armed forces, told the National Interest. “In Putin’s Russia, the Orthodox Church seeks every opportunity to represent itself as the national religion and tie itself to the state as it had under the tsars, so this act represents continuity broken temporarily by the Soviet years. Of course the Soviet regime did not build churches for the army, but it did build the ‘House of the Red Army,’ shaped like a star, in Moscow dedicated to the use of the Red Army and its soldiers.

In some respects it was analogous to a USO [United Service Organization that supports American soldiers] building. So Putin’s dedicating one particular building to the use of the Russian Army soldiers for purposes of morale—and morals—is in line with that.”

While the thought of a military church will be distasteful to some, Russia is hardly unique in linking the military and religion.

Many armies, the United States and Israel included, maintain chaplains who wear uniform and hold military rank. Chapels are common on military bases, and soldiers are given time for – and sometimes pressured to – attend religious services. While a Russian military church is likely to favor a specific denomination – Russian Orthodoxy – even that isn’t unique: non-Christian members of the U.S. military have complained of religious discrimination , especially by Christian fundamentalists.

What’s interesting is how little things change. Be it the Tsar’s conscripts, or the Red Army’s draftees or the volunteers who comprise much of modern Russia’s military, some spiritual reinforcement is deemed necessary to get soldiers to fight.

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