Correction: The website mentioned in the below post is owned by James L’Angelle, a supporter of the Syrian National Council but not an official spokesman for the organization. As such, the images posted on the site — which L’Angelle said that he took from another blog — cannot provide insights into the workings of the SNC. The official website of the SNC is www.syriannc.org. We regret the error.
The Syrian National Council (SNC), which was formed on Sunday as an umbrella coalition of groups opposed to President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, hinted strongly that it was in favor of a no-fly zone over the country by publishing maps of Syrian air defenses on its website.
The SNC’s web page on the implementation of a no-fly zone to protect Syrian civilians, similar to the one that exists over Libya, does not explicitly endorse such an option. It argues that while "the situation itself might warrant an air defense blanket," practical considerations make the creation of a no-fly zone more difficult.
But the pictures on the website tell a different story. Four detailed maps (1,2,3,4) show the placement of Syrian air defenses — specifically the Soviet-designed S-25, S-75, S-125, and S-200 surface-to-air missiles, and the 2K12 "Kub" air defense system — that an international force would presumably need to destroy to implement a no-fly zone. Another chart compares Syria’s total number of anti-aircraft weapons, which it lists at 3,310, those of other nations.
SNC Chairman Burhan Ghalioun affirmed yesterday that the council "rejects any outside interference that undermines the sovereignty of the Syrian people." SNC members, however, have interpreted that statement to rule out the presence of foreign boots on the ground in Syria — but not necessarily a no-fly zone.
Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.
A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.
Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C.| The Cable |