As recent posts have noted, the Syrian-Turkish border confrontation (and other Mideast flash points) are sliding toward what seems to be a larger war. This trend is accelerating.
The first link is a recent report on the presumed status of Syrian air-defenses, which (thanks to Russia) are described as being more sophisticated than even the air defense systems of Iran. Syria upgraded its air defense systems to deploy the Russian S-300 system, a very sophisticated air defense system. It is not impossible that Russia has even shipped its top-of-the-line S-400 air defense system to Syria. This possibility is not discussed in the first link, but speculation about this unconfirmed possibility can be found via a websearch. These are steps taken by the Syrians and Russians which apparently expect to have to defend against waves of US/NATO and/or Israeli warplanes.
Not to be outdone, the second link reports that Turkey has “demanded” that NATO “donate” Patriot missile air defense systems to Turkey to guard against Syria’s “huge arsenal of Russian- and Chinese-origin ballistic missiles. While unstated, I think it is obvious that Turkey wants to have those air-defense missiles to also shoot down any Iranian or Russian supply planes which might seek to reinforce Syria and Hezbollah in any larger Mideast war that erupts.
The first link acknowledges that Russian technicians were sent to Syria to train Syrians how to operate the sophisticated Russian air-defense systems. That report speculates that Russia “may” have removed those technicians. In other words, they don’t know that for a fact, and Russian technicians “may” also be still manning the Russian air-defense systems placed by Russia in Syria. Indeed, Russia “may” actually desire a chance to test its air defense system against NATO or Israeli warplanes in real combat situations while maintaining a plausible deniability about being directly involved via its personnel operating those air defense systems.
In another troubling development (third link), it has been reported by the Russian government that the Syrian rebels now have as many as 50 US Stinger, shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, and that some of those missiles have fallen into the hands of Al-Queda affiliated groups fighting with the Syrian rebels. If this report is true, then these Stinger missiles could be used against either military or civilian aircraft. Russia has [accurately] warned that these missiles are a threat to aviation in the Levant, but I think it is understood that if some of these missiles have fallen into the hand of Al-Queda elements, these missiles could potentially be used against civilian airliners anywhere in the world in a terrorist attack. It is the Stinger missiles which the USA gave to the Afghan resistance which drove the Russians out of Afghanistan when Russia tried to occupy that war-weary place (you can rent or buy Charlie Wilson’s War, a movie about that time in history, but don’t rent it if you are a prude–Charlie Wilson was not a choir boy).
In another development which clearly ratchets up the war tensions in the Mideast, the militaries of Syria and Israel have now exchanged fire on each other. An earlier post noted that three Syrian tanks wandered into the Golan region governed by the Israelis, but the Israelis did not fire on them. However, there have been mortar shells from Syria’s military landing in the Israeli zone and Syrian forces then hit an Israeli jeep with hostile fire, and another Israeli IDF position was hit as well (see fourth link). Today (November 12), it has just been reported that Israeli tanks opened fire on and hit a Syrian military mobile artillery vehicle after another Syrian mortar shell exploded in the Israeli zone (see fifth link). The Israeli leaders are struggling to understand how much of the Syrian military activity is accidental and how much of it is intentionally aimed at Israeli targets. Now that an Israeli tank fired on and hit a Syrian mobile artillery vehicle, the Israelis have sent a very stern warning to Assad and the Syrian regime.
The Mideast region is slowly but steadily sliding toward a large war. It may only take a spark to set off a military conflagration. And as history teaches us, a Mideast war can sometimes result in some very unexpected alliances being formed.