Attrition & Syria’s Air Force.
It’s been covered before. Syria’s air force, for all of its lethality and for all of the fear and anger it has caused in rebel territory, is getting weaker. This is in part because of the strains related to op tempo and in part because the rebels have been getting stronger. An example is this video from today in the Idlib Governorate, which speaks for itself.
Remember: this does not mean that the Syrian air force is not still potent or dangerous. It is still potent. And sometimes military units can become more dangerous as they weaken, because they fight harder, or fight with less restraint. But it does mean that the clock ticks on toward the time when this might become solely a ground war.
Watch the video, which was posted today. It shows a crippled Syrian helicopter, its pilots struggling to control the broken aircraft’s descent, explode — apparently because the spreading fire found the aircraft’s fuel.
From there, gravity does the rest.
[Note: the Arabic text in the most recent video of this downing claims that the fire on the falling helicopter caused the explosion of a so-called barrel bomb inside. The rebels present no evidence for this claim, so it is not clear on what grounds that claim is based, though it is certainly a possibility, too. Thank you to the reader who suggested this. For others, stay tuned, we’ll have more soon about barrel bombs, part of an At War post already on the desk about makeshift weapons used by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.]