In this video via Liwaa al-Islam (Brigade of Islam), the Islamist militia (affiliated with the centre-moderate Syrian Liberation Front) deploys an advanced self-propelled anti-aircraft system. It bears a striking resemblance to the control console on the Belorussian-Ukranian upgrade of the SA-8 (OSA-8), of which the Assad regime has (or had) 60 units. Notice the similarity of the control panel at ~1:15 of this video:
“The T38 Stilet (Stiletto) is SP Short Range SAM system developed by the Belorussian company ‘Tetraedr’. The T-38 is a further evolution of the OSA-1T system, which itself was a upgrade of the Soviet era OSA (SA-8) system.”
Red Lines has found a video from December of Liwaa al-Islam capturing a complete SA-8 unit, celebrating, praying and shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ HERE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKoYg9xEGMs
With engagement altitudes of 2–9 km (1.3-5.6 miles) / 50–5000 m (164-16,400 ft), this missile system poses a deadly threat to Assad’s aging, battle-damaged Air Force. Based on the dates the videos were published, the Damascus-based rebel group took around 6-7 months to ready this unit for use against the Assad regime’s aircraft.
Based in Eastern Ghouta, fighters for the Banner of Islam are facing a prolonged siege that one supporter describes to us as “very like Hell,” but they still find a way to upload their videos despite the “mangling” of all radio & wireless signals coming in. Recently the government has intensified Air Force and artillery strikes on these neighborhoods in a hysterical attempt to shake loose rebel brigades, who have endured several occupations and daily bombardments, but still hold ground in a handful of residential areas near the center of the capital, posing a constant threat to the operational core of the Assad regime.
This very operational core, the “Crisis Cell” in the Syrian Defense Ministry was struck by a rebel bomb last year killing the Defense Minister, his Deputy and wounding or killing a half-dozen other men behind Assad’s war on his own people. This attack was claimed by the Free Syrian Army, but Liwaa al-Islam supporters have also quietly taken credit for this operation that nearly brought an early end to the Assad regime.
With another planned nation-wide Assad-army offensive failing to make significant headway in Homs, Damascus or Aleppo, the regime will be dismayed by a brigade, which has shed the blood of elite Assad clan leader before, deploying advanced air-combat system in the capital. The regime is also watching important strongholds collapse, like Khan al-Assal, strategically key to the supplying of regime positions in Aleppo, even with the considerable help from Hezbollah and Iran. Bashar al-Assad’s forces seem to have squandered the momentum gained from taking al-Qusayr.
UPDATE March 2014: Liwaa al-Islam posted a promo video featuring the anti-aircraft system, HERE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=dtbii2J_n4E
UPDATE: Liwaa al-Islam representatives sent us this message about the system they have deployed,
“anti-craft missiles: SA – 8 Gecko
this missile is known also as k 33 and in syria as ‘ossa’
diameter :21 cm
military head weight :16 kg
speed :500 hundred meter by second or equal to 2*4 makh
atmost range:15 km
least range :1500m
atmost hight:5 km
least hight :25m
radar range 25 km
this system is known for its flexible movement and high maneuvering,
russian ossa system was gained and developed by liwaa al-islam in western ghotta and al-mujahedeen could operate and reform it after a year of patience grace and thanks to God
this video shows its gain:
-Editor’s note: This post previously referred to Liwaa al-Islam as the “banner” of Islam. This has been corrected to “Brigade”.