While our government dithers, ISIL is rampaging around the Middle East. In northern Syria, the terrorists routed a Syrian army detachment and captured an air base in Tabqa. Reportedly, the base yielded surface to air missiles suitable for bringing down airplanes along with other weaponry:
The seizure of Tabqa air base, while not the first installation of its type to fall to militants, highlights the Islamic State’s gains in the region and the group’s continued pilfering of advanced military equipment, particularly the surface-to-air missile systems known as MANPADS, short for Man Portable Air Defense Systems.
Matt Schroeder, a senior researcher at the Switzerland-based research group Small Arms Survey and author of a recent report on MANPADS in Syria, believes that the takeover of Tabqa airbase could mark a “significant proliferation” of the weapons across the region.
This tweet by Charles Lister shows terrorists with MANPADs and other equipment–including MIGs!–at Tabqa:
— Charles Lister (@Charles_Lister) August 24, 2014
The Washington Post article linked above cautions that MANPADs are not as simple as they look, have a limited shelf life, and require some skill to use. The problem with Islamic terrorists, however, is that they aren’t stupid. A disproportionate number of them are engineers, doctors and so on. Mastering battery technology likely won’t be an obstacle for long.
UPDATE: This video, from the Associated Press, purports to show jihadis celebrating the capture of the Tabqa air base:
These people need to be stopped, but it will take someone more competent than our present government to do it.