• Short Summary

    In the face of the recent Israeli-Egyptian peace agreement covering the Sinai region, Syrian forces along the north-eastern front with Israel are on constant alert for a fresh outbreak of fighting.

  • Description

    CV and SCU field gun barrels being raised.

    SV Officer giving orders to troops (3 shots).

    SV Troops loading field guns under instruction (4 shots).

    SV tank across open ground.

    SCU tank observer PAN to gun turret and other tanks crossing plain (3 shots).

    SV Jet fighter taking off at Maza

    GV Mig jet fighter flying over.

    SV fighter landing and coming to standstill (2 shots).

    MV another Mig taxiing in and pilot getting out of cockpit 2 shots).

    TRANSCRIPT: "Once outside the limited-force belt,back on the road to Damascus, Syrian forces are now heavily dug in. Most of their equipment is invisible from the road ... like these One-twenty-two millimetre field guns, with a range of five miles.

    "They are manned day and night...or there are few Syrian soldiers who do not believe that Israel is only waiting for a chance to destroy the Syrian Army. It's doubtful if even Syria's Russian-replenished Armoured Corps could long hold off a determined Israeli thrust on Damascus. All of the twelve hundred tanks lost by Syria in the October War have now been made up, and many of the tank crews are becoming veterans...like Major Yussef Shawa, a tank commander at thirty, married, from Damascus, a regular officer. His Russian-built Centurions.

    "Further back down the road to Damascus, on the very outskirts of the town itself, lies Maza -- one of Syria's largest air force bases. The Russian-built Migs whirl and leap into the sun training a new generation of Syrian pilots. After the Syrian debacle of 1967, when its air force was caught on the ground, Maza has new runways and bombproof hangars for its fighters. The ageing Mig-Seventeen still serves in battle, but elsewhere are the now powerful Mig-Twenty-Threes, considered a match for the Israeli American Phantom. Nevertheless, the Syrian ??? Force could probably only survive four days in renewed war, even with experienced pilots who acquitted themselves with honour during the last war."

    Initials MV1745

    This film is serviced with a report by B.B.C. reporter Tom Mangold on the continued alert and training of Syrian forces. A transcript appears overleaf.

    Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved

    Background: In the face of the recent Israeli-Egyptian peace agreement covering the Sinai region, Syrian forces along the north-eastern front with Israel are on constant alert for a fresh outbreak of fighting.

    Syria's reaction to the Israeli-Egyptian pact has been one of anger, and the Syrian press has launched an intensive anti-Egypt campaign, strongly criticising President Anwar Sadat's acceptance of the peace terms negotiated by United States' Secretary of State, Dr. Henry Kissinger.

    The widening of the buffer-zone between Egyptian and Israeli forces in the Sinai has led to fears that Egypt's initial actions in a further Middle East conflict would be hampered, and that Syria might be left to feel the brunt of a determined Israeli attack.

    Syrian military and air force suffered considerable casualties, both in men and machines, during the October 1973 War against Israel 1200 tanks were lost...but the numbers have since been made up and increased by the purchase of a large number of Soviet-built T-44s... regarded as more manoeuvrable for fighting conditions along the Golan Heights front, but still outranged by the British-built Centurions of the Israeli army.

    Outside the limited-force zones set up under the 1973 peace agreement, Syrian military and artillery forces are heavily dug in along the road to the capital, Damascus. The gun-posts are never left unmanned, for much of the Syrian Army is convinced that Israel is only waiting for the right chance to strike.

    The Syrian air force under constant training and expansion, and a number of the ageing Soviet-built Mig-17 aircraft replaced by the newer, more powerful Mig-23s -- considered ??? for the Israeli force of U.S.-built Phantom fighters. A new generation of Syrian fighter - pilots has been trained to replace those killed in 1973, and airbases such as Maza, on the outskirts of Damascus have been extended and now have bombproof hangars for their valuable equipment.

    But, outnumbered almost 3-to-1 in manpower and just under 3-to-2 in the air, Syria's overall chances of holding off for long a powerful Israeli thrust are questionable.

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    Media URN:
    Reuters - Source to be Verified
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    Available on request
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