Syria is definitely ready to do what it takes to fight for its territory. It was revealed that Syria is ready to use the Russian anti-aircraft surface-to-air missiles on anyone who trespasses its territory.
The fatal shoot-down of a Russian fighter jet by a Turkish F-16 two weeks ago has given urgency to installing the air-defence system. It is as much in Russia’s interest as it is in Syria’s to have air cover – and the S-300, and its newer generation, the S-400, are reckoned to be the best technology in the world for that job. According to a senior officer at the Syria-Russia joint military operations room in Damascus, the mobile S-300 is ready for deployment at various locations across the country.
Translated from Arabic language Alrai Media, the senior Syrian officer at the operations room is quoted as saying: “Soon Syria will announce that any country using the airspace without coordinating with Damascus will be viewed as hostile and [we] will shoot the jet down without warning. Those willing to fight terrorism and coordinate with the military leadership will be granted safe corridors.”
This may seem like a dangerous escalation. American fighter jets have been bombing Syrian territory since September 2014, having carried out thousands of air strikes allegedly against the Islamic State (IS) terror group (also known by its Arabic name Daesh).
Since the Paris terror attacks last month, France has stepped up its air strikes in Syria too. In the past week, Britain and Germany parliaments have voted for their air forces to join the other NATO members in aerial operations. The US-led bombing coalition in Syria also includes Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Russia is the only country whose military aircraft are legally deployed in Syria because Moscow has the full consent of the Syrian government. All the others do not have consent from Damascus.
So we have at least seven foreign powers deploying their warplanes to bomb Syrian territory – all in violation of international law.
It is irrelevant whether the US-led alliance claims to be fighting terrorists, or whether they claim it is in “self-defence” as France, Britain and Germany are.
In any case, the ultimate legal criterion is the position of the Syrian state authorities. Western governments and their media have done everything to discredit, demonise and delegitimise the Syrian government. That’s part of the US-led push for regime change in Syria. But the fact remains, Syria is a sovereign state fully entitled the legal rights of all other UN members.
If the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad – which is the internationally recognised governing authority of Syria and retains its seat at the UN – does not consent to foreign military intervention, then that intervention is illegal, as Moscow and Damascus have repeatedly pointed out.
Syria, with the S-300 missile system supplied by its Russian ally, now has the technical means to defend its borders and airspace from all intruders. It also has the legal right to defend the inviolability of its territory. After all, US President Barack Obama invoked this right with regard to Turkey after the shoot-down of the Russian Su-24. Obama said Turkey had “every right to protect its skies” (even though the evidence shows that the Russian fighter jet did not breach Turkish territory).
In other words: what’s good for Turkey is good for Syria, as for any other nation.
Western air strikes without the approval of the Syrian government are illegal.
The imperative here is that Syria re-establishes its sovereignty and the principles of international law. If Syria is lost, then Western state sponsored banditry and terrorism will only escalate. Russia is already being targeted by the West’s asymmetric warfare, as is Iran and China.
Therefore, a line has to be drawn. And with Russia’s military support, Syria has the power to do just that. From now on, NATO warplanes violating Syrian territory should be put on notice. Keep out or get shot down.