While Syria has been upgrading its aging defense system in recent years, it will be severely tested if a barrage of American-made missiles are fired at the country.
Russia's Interfax news agency quoted a confident, if unnamed, "military diplomatic source" on Tuesday who predicted "no easy victory" if "the U.S. Army together with NATO launches an operation against Syria. Buk-M2E multirole air and missile complexes and other air defense systems are capable of making a fitting reply to aggressors."
Estimates by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), Jane's and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) of Assad's pre-war defense capabilities included 365 to 550 combat aircraft (50% of which CSIS estimates may be left now with questions about pilot capability); 25 air defense brigades with some 120 to 150 surface-to-air missile batteries (most aging or obsolete); and an array of more modern short-range surface-to-air weapons, including thousands of shoulder-launched MANPADS.
Syria has purchased a highly advanced S-300 system from Russia, which can intercept targets at a much longer range and higher altitude than anything currently in Syria's arsenal. But it hasn't been delivered yet, and even if it arrived tomorrow, it would take months to set up and properly train Syrians to use. One of the Syrian military's most potent assets are its Bastion coastal defense missiles, which Assad bought from Russia in the last few years. They could strike ships in the Mediterranean and would effectively push back the distances from which foreign ships would launch missiles used in any attack. Part of the system are Yakhont anti-ship missiles, which were reportedly Israel's target when it bombed a Syrian depot in July.