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World Council for the Cedars Revolution

Feb 25th
Home arrow News Content arrow Blog arrow Blog Items arrow Intelligence arrow Slain Syrian aide supplied missiles to Hezbollah
Slain Syrian aide supplied missiles to Hezbollah PDF Print E-mail
Written by The Sunday Times   
Sunday, 10 August 2008

SA-8 Gecko SAM
SA-8 Gecko SAM

Recently assassinated Muhammed Suleiman had been supplying anti-aircraft missiles to Lebanese militant group HezbollahUzi Mahnaimi, Tel Aviv

A KEY aide to the Syrian president who was assassinated last weekend in mysterious circumstances had been supplying Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group, with advanced Syrian SA-8 anti-aircraft missiles, according to Middle Eastern sources.

Once operative, the mobile missiles will threaten the dominance of the Israeli air force over Lebanon.

The assassinated aide, Brigadier-General Muhammad Suleiman, 49, was “more important than anyone else”, wrote the London-based Saudi paper Al-Sharq al-Awsat last week: “He was senior even to the defence minister. He knew everything.”

He was killed by a single shot to the head as he sat in the garden of his summer house near the northern port city of Tartus.

Nobody heard the shot, which appears to have been fired from a speedboat by a sniper, possibly equipped with a silencer. The expertise required to execute such a long-distance sniper murder has led suspicion to fall upon the Israelis.

Suleiman had been President Bashar al-Assad’s personal mentor since 1994, after the death of the president’s brother Basel in a car accident. Assad later appointed Suleiman as his operations officer and made him responsible for protecting the regime.

If Syria has passed Russian-made SA-8 mobile launchers to Hezbollah, the Shi’ite militia that came close to defeating the Israeli army two years ago, it is in possession of a potent weapon to defy Israeli air power.

Ehud Barak, Israel’s defence minister, recently warned that Hezbollah was straining his country’s patience in Lebanon. Hezbollah announced last week its next military step would be “to stop Israeli fighter planes flying over our land”.

Despite the risk of jeopardising peace negotiations between the two countries, the attack appears to have been intended as a warning to the Syrian regime.

According to Israeli sources, during Assad’s visit to Paris last month Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, asked President Nicolas Sarkozy to tell Assad that he was “crossing a red line supplying arms to Hezbollah in Lebanon”.

Last week the Israeli defence cabinet was presented with an intelligence report on Syria’s arms supplies to Hezbollah.


9K33 OSA-AKM (SA-8 Gecko)


SA-8 GECKO Low Altitude Surface-to-air Missile System

The SA-8 GECKO is a single-stage, solid-fuel, short-range, low-altitude, all-weather SAM system. The TELAR (transporter erector launcher and radar) vehicle is a six-wheeled design designated BAZ-5937. The driver's compartment at the front of the vehicle has accommodation for two, the driver and commander, with access to it via a hatch in the roof. The engine is at the very rear. Four command-guided missiles are carried ready to launch, two either side. The main fire control radar is at the rear of a one-man gunner-radar operator position and folds back 90? to reduce the overall height of the vehicle for air transport and during high speed road travel. It is known that the radar operates in the H-band with a 360? traverse and has a maximum range of 35 km. The complete conical-scan radar installation of the GECKO has been assigned the NATO code name LAND ROLL. Each battery also has two missile transloaders based on the same chassis with a long coffin-like blunt pointed tarp roofed structure covering the cargo space and crane. When operating, the blunt point area is raised and the tarped structure is slid to the rear. A total of 18 reloads in boxed sets of three are transferred to the TELARs by the hydraulic crane mounted centrally behind the vehicle cab. In the Regiments Maintenance battery there is a single radar collimation vehicle using the same chassis. This has a collimation antenna which lies on both sides of the vehicle and overhangs the rear during transit. In operation it is raised and mounted on each side of the hull directly behind the cab. The SA-8a (GECKO Mod 0) high acceleration missile (Factory Index number 9M33) has a launch weight of about 130 kg. Maximum speed is Mach 2.4, minimum altitude is 25 m, maximum effective altitude 5000 m. The minimum range is 1500 m and the maximum range 12000 m. Against an F-4 Phantom target the warhead's lethal radius at low altitude is 5 m and is fitted with proximity and contact fuses. In 1980 a newer missile, the SA-8b or GECKO Mod 1, was introduced into service. Contained in a rectangular launch box it has improved guidance and speed characteristics to give an increased maximum range of 15000 m. The warhead weight of both missiles is 19 kg. The reloading time is five minutes. Combat deployment time is four minutes with system reaction 26 seconds. The surveillance radar of the LAND ROLL operates in the H band and has an effective range of around 30 kilometers against a typical target. The tracking radar is of the pulsed type and it operates in the J band with a range of 20 to 25 kilometers. The two I-band guidance radars make it possible to launch two missiles at the same target, each one responding to a different frequency to frustrate ECM. Mounted on top of each missile guidance radar is an LLLTV/optical assist system for target tracking in low visibility and heavy ECM. LAND ROLL is also known to have a short-range target acquisition capability. The vehicle is fully amphibious, being propelled in the water by two water jets at the rear of the hull. The vehicle is fitted with an air filtration and overpressure NBC system together with IR systems for the commander and driver.

VARIANTS: There are at least three major families of SA-8 launch vehicles. The first has a very blunt nose, and may be a pre-series prototype. The standard production type for the SA-8a has a sharper nose, and there appear to be sub-variants of this vehicle with minor changes in the detail of hull fittings. The SA-8b vehicle is basically similar to the SA-8a vehicle mentioned above aside from the launcher details to accommodate six missile canisters. There are also indications that a distinctly different SA-8b launcher may exist, with a reconfigured rear end. In 1991 SA-8b TELs were seen with an additional small sized radar antenna fitted above the surveillance radar. It is possible that the antenna may be associated with a new IFF system. 


SA-8 / Osa 9A33

  • Crew: 5
  • Engine: D20B-200 diesel 200 hp
  • Max road speed: 80 km/h
  • Max water speed: 8 km/h
  • Range (road): 500 km
  • Combat weight: 17,500 kg
  • Length: 9.14 m
  • Width: 2.8 m
  • Height: 4.2 m
  • Ground clearance: 0.4 m
  • Armament: 6 SA-8 (9M33) missile
  • Launch weight: 126 kg
  • Warhead: 20 kg HE
  • Max speed: Mach 2,4
  • Engagement limits:
    • (target speed 1,100 km/h)
  • Max range:10,000 m
  • Min range: 1,500 m
  • Max altitude: 5,000 m
  • Min altitude: 25 m
    • (target speed 1,800 km/h)
  • Max range:10,000 m
  • Min range: 1,500 m
  • Max altitude: 5,000 m
  • Min altitude: 100 m
    • (target speed 0-360 km/h)
  • Max range:6,500 m
  • Min range: 2,000 m
  • Max altitude: 5,000 m
  • Min altitude: 10-25 m
  • Reload time (SPU): 10 min

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