Security experts: Missile used by Syrian rebels poses limited threat to Israel

Video shows downing of Assad aircraft with missile platform; experts say IAF could deal with threat with relative ease.

Syrian rebels down Assad jet 370 (photo credit: YouTube Screenshot)
Syrian rebels down Assad jet 370
(photo credit: YouTube Screenshot)
Syrian rebels released a video on Tuesday purporting to show the downing of a government aircraft with a mobile air defense missile.
The rebels identified the weapon as the SA-8, a short-range, 1970s-era surface-to-air system.
A monitor at the launch site shows a missile shooting upward and striking an unidentified aircraft, to shouts of “Allahu akbar” by cheering rebels.
Israeli security experts who viewed the video told The Jerusalem Post that the system could pose a limited threat to Israeli air traffic in the North if radical rebels choose to try and target Israel, but that the Israel Air Force could deal with the threat with relative ease.
“The SA-8 Gecko NATO code name [Russian name 9K33 OSA] is a Russian-made, highly mobile, low-altitude, short-range tactical surfaceto- air missile system,” said Dr. Ely Karmon, a senior scholar at the Herzliya-based Institute for Counter-Terrorism.
“I am not sure if what we see in the video is the actual firing of an operational missile or an older movie they found in a military base,” he said.
“[But] this is clearly a threat to our air force, although probably manageable, or to civil aviation if terrorists put their hands on it and learn to use it.”
Brig.-Gen. (res.) Shlomo Brom, a senior research associate at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, said he was not sure the system shown in the rebel video was an SA- 8.
“In any case, it looks like a short-range weapon system, and therefore whether it is an SA-8 or another short-range anti-aircraft weapon system, the effects on us are very limited due to the short-range,” Brom said.
“If such a system operates on the Syrian Golan Heights, it can strike an aircraft, such as [agricultural] spray planes, which fly a few kilometers [from] the Syrian border,” he said.