There are conflicting reports about an US Air Force F-22 Raptor crashing in Jordan in the area bordering Syria. Whether or not such an aircraft was downed presumably by a Syrian S-300/S-400 anti-aircraft missile unit that Russia also touts as an anti-missile missile, the possible role of Russian military personnel active on the side of Bashar al-Assad’s regime will be a matter of conjecture, especially now that an American air strike is imminent.
Assuming the story of the downed F-22 is true, those who know about the complexity in effectively using the Russian S-300/S-400 systems believe that any such success would have to be attributed to the active Russian hand. The presence of Russian military personnel in Syria is not a secret and with two missile destroyers being deployed in the Mediterranean by Moscow, the game of nerves between the Cold War antagonists may now be on. Obama may well launch a concerted and massive aerial strike against Damascus and key Syrian military concentrations and communications hubs, but an air war by itself w/o a follow-on land force insertion will amount to an indecisive operation. Washington is hamstrung in inserting even Special Forces, however, because the US Senate while permitting aerial strikes has barred boots on the ground, and restricted the overall operation to just 90 days.
Moreover, with US-Russian relations becoming testy — reflected in Obama’s signaling the unlikelihood of his meeting Putin on the sidelines of the G-20 summit, the US will have to factor in just what Russia’s reaction would be to waves of decapitating and punitive attacks on a Damascus dispensation Moscow has always had a soft corner for. Interesting to see how this scenario unfolds.