Written by Hadi Gholami Nohouji exclusively for SouthFront
This Saturday began with breaking news about the downing of an Israeli F-16I that was, according to the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), carrying out attacks on the Syrian T-4 military base in the central of Syria, not far away from the ancient city of Palmyra.
The Israeli jet crashed in Israel, but it became clear that the reason for its downing was the heavy attack conducted by Syrian anti-aircraft systems —in this case supposedly the now decades old S-200 (SA-5 NATO reporting name)— positioned in the Syrian soil and, probably, near the T-4.
It was like this that the air superiority of the Israeli Air Force (IAF) in the southwestern Syrian territory came to its end, opening the door to, as Hezbollah’s statement also announces, a new strategic phase in Syria, in which Damascus starts to actually live up to its threats against Israel, something that it rarely has done up until now.
Even right now there are signs that this new phase has began since in its “retaliatory attacks” the IDF has only bombed military outposts and bases near Damascus and in areas it can comfortably attack from outside Syrian soil.
This in itself shows a fear of the repetition of the F-16I incident and limits severely the Israeli’s ability to carry out attacks deep inside the Syrian territory due to the presence of even more advanced anti-aircraft systems than the soviet-built S-200 that supposedly shut down the Israeli jet.
Interestingly the military bases attacked following the downing of the F-16I are at least 70 kilometers away from the border zones between Israel and Syria which, considering the range of between 180 and 280 kilometers that the S-200 has, explains the reasons for this.
Even leaving aside the fact that the Israeli jets tend to carry out their attacks from several kilometers away from the Syrian soil, the distance of over 70 kilometers can give a roughly 30 seconds of reaction time for the pilot to release its flares and evade the missiles flying in its direction, something that, also, shows reluctance and fear on the Israeli part to fly into Syrian airspace.
All said and done, the actual situation —even taking into account the heavy response of the IAF to Syria— shows a shift in the paradigm in Syria and increases the confidence of the Damascus and allies to keep facing the Israeli aggressions.