EAWORLDVIEWS / MESOP – 16.6.2013 – How Many Military Officers Defected?

71 Officers defected, including 6 Generals and 22 Colonels.

Footage: Republican Guard Defections In Harasta, Damascus : This video, posted earlier today by the Capital Shield Brigade in Harasta, a northeastern suburb of Damascus, purports to show a group of defectors from the Republican Guard, an armored division of the Syrian Army; the elite Fourth Armored Division; and the Electronic Warfare Division.

Watch Video:

202 Assad military members crossed to Turkey this morning, including 73 officers of which 7 are Generals.

Another 30 troops from 4th Division & Republican Guards defected earlier today in Suburb Damascus.

What Weapons Will The US Supply To Insurgents? It Depends Which Officials You Ask.

In the wake of reports on Friday that the US has agreed to supply arms to Syrian insurgents, there remains confusion over which weapons will be supplied and whether the US is backing the creation of a no-fly zone.

The FSA have said that they have a desperate need for anti-tank and surface-to-air missiles to counter aerial attacks from regime warplanes and Russian-supplied helicopter gunships.

However, while the Wall Street Journal reported that the US was unlikely to provide MANPADS to insurgents,

[the] U.S. hasn’t ruled out providing antitank weapons and small arms.

Moreover, the WSJ adds:

Officials say European allies have expressed a willingness to provide Manpads and potentially other heavier weapons sought by rebels.

So the US is opposed to MANPADS but the Europeans may be more willing to supply them?

Not so, according to officials Reuters spoke to, who said definitively that the weapons insurgents will receive:

will not include shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles known as MANPADs that could bring down Syrian military planes and helicopters.

“European officials and others with close knowledge of the situation” told Reuters that:

[The] United States would supply the Western-backed Syrian Military Council with automatic weapons, light mortars and rocket-propelled grenades.

OK, but what about the no-fly zone? Do officials agree on what shape that might take?

Apparently not.

While the Wall Street Journal cites US officials as saying that the US proposals include “calls for a limited no-fly zone inside Syria that would be enforced by IS and allied planes on Jordanian territory”, Reuters speaks to European officials “and others with close knowledge of the situation” who say this:

And for now, Washington is not backing the establishment of a “no-fly zone” over Syria, which would involve a major commitment of U.S. and European air power to counter Syria’s extensive air defenses, they said, in part because there is no international consensus on the step.

SANA Misquotes Russian Deputy FM Over Hatla Mass Killing

State-run Syrian Arab News Agency misquotes Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Gennady Gatilov, citing him as blaming “the Al Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra” for a mass killing in Hatla, Deir Ez-Zor.

SANA writes:

Gatilov held the armed terrorist groups and the Al Qaeda-affiliated Jabhar al-Nusra responsible for the murder of 60 people in the village of Hatla in Deir Ezzor, calling on mass media and human rights proponents to give proper attention to this massacre.

Via his Twitter feed, Gatilov said that the aforementioned massacre which claimed the lives of 60 people, some of them women and children, was committed by armed groups who are also responsible for displacing Christians from Sednaya.

In fact, Gatilov did not mention Jabhat al-Nusra, instead referring only to “militants”.

US Officials Back Away From No-FLy Zone

Hours after The Wall Street Journal published news from US officials that plans for a no-fly zone in southern Syria were being considered, others in the Obama Administration publicly backed away from the idea.

Deputy National Security Advisor Benjamin Rhodes said:

[A no-fly zone is] dramatically more difficult and dangerous and costly in Syria, for a variety of reasons.

One is that in Libya, you already had a situation where the opposition controlled huge portions of the country and you could essentially protect those portions of the country from the air. You do not have the same types of air defense system that exist within Syria. So in that regard, it’s more difficult.

Rhodes continued:

“I think people need to understand that the no-fly zone is not some type of silver bullet that is going to stop a very intense and, in some respect, sectarian conflict,” Rhodes said, stressing though that Washington was not ruling out options, some strategic approaches would not work.

We don’t at this point believe that the US has a national interest in pursuing a very intense, open-ended military engagement through a no-fly zone in Syria at this juncture.

Susan Rice, the incoming National Security Advisor, also took a cautious line: “That option has some downsides and limitations that we are very well aware of and will factor into any decision.”

On Friday, the Journal featured the comments of officials that the US had plans for a 25-mile no-fly zone in southern Syria, enforced by American aircraft at Jordanian bases. At the same time, The New York Times — again fed by American officials — headlined that the Obama Administration has decided to publicly arm the Syrian insurgency.

Tags:Aleppo, Benjamin Rhodes, No-Fly Zone, Susan Rice, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights