An entire Syrian Air Defense Battalion defected, (possibly) bringing some new anti-aircraft weapons in rebel hands.

On Jun.10, several reports coming from Syria gave the news that an entire Syrian Air Defense Battalion, the 743th based at Al Gantoo, near Talbiseh, had defected.

Even if the Battalion consists of about 140 soldiers, just a few of them were at the site located to the north of the city of Homs when talks with the Free Syrian Army started, and only 10 agreed to join the FSA.

The site is believed to host SA-6 SAMs, the videos uploaded on Youtube by the opposition forces only show SA-2 Guideline batteries.

However, the Assad forces attacked the site and destroyed all the equipment  in order to prevent the rebels from using the ammunition and weapon systems found there.

Even if the Syrian helicopters dispatched to get rid of anything that could be used by the FSA, might have destroyed the mobile SAM stations, some anti-aircraft weapons were possibly captured by the rebels: some of them, including a ZSU-23-4 Shilka, could soon be used against the regime’s drones (reportedly used to monitor UN observers) and Mil Mi-8/17 Hip gunships that have ruled the Syrian sky so far.

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.