By William Tucker
Over the past weekend various Syrian opposition groups assaulted, and eventually seized, an air defense missile base on the outskirts of Aleppo. Initial reports of the battle were sketchy, but video released by the Free Syrian Army show that the base is indeed in opposition hands. Activists with connections to the opposition fighters in Syria claimed that aircraft belonging to the regime had bombed the advanced weapons systems to prevent their use by the opposition. Lighter weapons were quickly carried off by the rebel forces before they, too, could be destroyed. Although there are several countries that are supporting the Syrian opposition, many nations have expressed concerns that the weapons could fall into the hands of al-Qaeda. This limited support, along with unreliable supply lines, often forces the opposition to scrounge for weapons wherever possible.
The loss of these bases and military outposts will certainly have an impact on regime forces, but not necessarily in the way one would expect. As opposition forces have disrupted overland supply routes used by regime forces, much of the resupply has taken place by air. The use of air assets to ferry materials and munitions for heavy, mechanized units (ie. tracked vehicles, artillery, etc.) is very inefficient. The regional bases and outposts that have been attacked by the opposition have the support facilities necessary to support air operations. Without these, aerial resupply is still possible, but will be greatly complicated. That will, in turn, further complicate how regime forces maintain a logistics chain around the country. That said, the regimes forces still retain significant firepower in comparison to the opposition. This means the regime may not be able to sustain combat operations throughout the country, but they can deny access to some of the urban areas along the coast and around Damascus.