Pentagon: Syrian Air Defense Could be a Factor in Future Air Strikes

Syria possesses “sophisticated air defenses” that the US military would have to consider if it launched air strikes into Syria to attack ISIS extremists, Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said Friday. Although Kirby acknowledged the United States has been conducting intelligence-gathering missions into Syria, he would not go into details about the air defenses. He did say the eastern part of Syria, where ISIS controls much of the territory, tends to be less populous than the western areas, where he assumed most of the air defenses were located. However, Kirby noted that a lot of air defense system are mobile. “Obviously, as we plan and prepare for air operations in that area, we would have to factor in the air defenses that could impact that,” he said. “In any preparation for military operations, we want to know as much about the opposition as possible. We’re still in the process of acquiring that,” he said. But, Kirby added, “We can be, and will be, prepared to defend American citizens and will not be beholden to geographic borders.” Much of Syria’s air defenses are Russian-made and include modern radars and a variety of very capable surface-to-air missiles. In a Sept. 10 primetime address to the nation in which President Obama laid out his strategy for defeating ISIS, Obama said he “will not hesitate to take action” against the terrorist organization in Syria.