Story Stream
recent articles

Another set of targets should be air force bases. Air power has been Assad's key to control of the country. He uses fixed and rotary wing aircraft to resupply troops under siege. Short lengths of oil pipeline filled with shrapnel and explosives are manually pushed out of planes and helicopters onto populated areas. Assad continues to attack populations using Scud, North Korean SS21, and Iranian Fateh 110 missiles, launched from air bases at Jandar and Dumayr. Destroying runways, planes, helicopters, missile launchers and rockets would seriously degrade Assad's ability to project destructive power including chemical, and possibly nuclear and biological WMD.

Three air bases at Kwers (Rasin al-Aboud), Aleppo International and Deir al-Zor are located in territory highly contested between regime and rebels forces. By destroying these airbases, aircraft, and associated infrastructure, the U.S. could sever Assad's ability to resupply his troops there. So strategically important, population-dense areas will be removed from the combat arena quickly. Ten other military airports, at Shayrat, Hama, Khalkhalah, Marj Ruhayyil, al-Nasiriyah, Sayqal, Tha‘lah (Suwayda), Qamishli, Palmyra and Qabr al-Sitt are still in regime hands. Although now playing only secondary roles, often as helicopter stations, their demolition would further weaken Assad's ability to inflict improvised bombardments upon civilians.

In order to extinguish the Syrian regime's control of airspace and its ability to provide troop and munition reinforcements, however, six major aerial transportation hubs must be put out of service. Located at Dumayr, Mezzeh, al-Qusayr (al-Daba), Bassel al-Assad International, Damascus International and Tiyas (Tayfoor), those military and civilian sites still receive resupply planes from Iran and Russia and in turn reship materials to government forces throughout the country. If these six locations were destroyed or at least seriously degraded, Assad's allies would no longer be able to keep his regime armed.

Additionally, American bombs should assist rebel forces in cutting off roads and collapsing bridges linking the regime's centers to Lebanon so that Hezbollah can no longer come to Assad's aid with men and arms. The same type of action is necessary to disconnect ground resupply lines leading from Syria's Mediterranean ports like al-Ladiqiyah (Lattakia), Baniyas and Tartus to military bases and command centers at Kwers, Aleppo, Deir al-Zor, Dumayr, Tiyas and even the Assad family's own safe houses in Damascus.

Carefully chosen U.S. strikes would ensure not only complete degradation of Bashar al-Assad's military might, but also of his political stature among even his staunchest supporters. The net result may cut short the civil war by permitting rebel troops to overrun regime strongholds swiftly and with fewer casualties all around. Intervention might even compel Assad to engage seriously in peace talks and bargain for a political solution. Unfortunately, "limited, tailored" U.S. involvement, as President Obama envisions, is less likely to help unite opposition groups, let alone convince the Sunni Islamist-minded among them to abjure sectarian revenge and work with other groups for a united, democratic Syria. So the bloodbath there will not end anytime soon.