US destroys Syrian weapons captured by ISIL
American commanders in Syria followed through on pledges to destroy anti-aircraft systems and heavy weapons captured by Islamic State in Palmyra, launching multiple airstrikes against the terror group’s positions around the ancient Syrian city.That should give the Syrians and the Russians some incentives to move against the ISIL positions so that the more advanced weapons are not also destroyed. They might have to pull forces away from Aleppo to protect the advanced weapons systems.
Over a dozen U.S. and coalition warplanes destroyed 14 Syrian tanks, three heavy artillery systems and one anti-aircraft artillery emplacement, according to a command statement by U.S. and coalition officials on Friday.
“We will not allow [the Islamic State] to maintain capabilities that threaten Coalition or partner forces,” Air Force Col. John Dorrian, the top U.S. spokesman in Iraq, said in the statement.
However, American and coalition fighters did not target the Russian-made Syrian SA-3 anti-aircraft missile system taken as part of the weapons cache seized in Palmyra after Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, captured the city.
The weapon remains in place near the Syrian air force base in Tiyas, roughly 40 miles west of Palmyra, a U.S. defense official told The Washington Times.
Currently, Islamic State fighters have surrounded Syrian troops who retreated to the air base from Palmyra and are close to overrunning the facility, according to the official.
U.S. commanders continue to track the weapon’s location, but have refrained from launching strikes against the missile site since it has yet to pose an imminent threat to coalition aircraft.
The antiquated Russian design of the weapon cannot deny Syrian airspace of any significant size to U.S. and coalition warplanes, compared to Russia’s more advanced S-400 anti-aircraft missile system, the official said.