By Mick Krever, CNN
Syrian defenses under a western attack would “collapse right away,” a former Syrian general told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour Tuesday.
Akil Hashem dismissed as “just excuses” the idea, promoted by Western intervention skeptics, that Syrian air defenses are very sophisticated.
It was an idea articulated by Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, in testimony before the U.S. Congress in March.
“They have approximately five times more sophisticated air defense systems than existed in Libya,” Dempsey said. “All of their air defenses are arrayed on the western border, which is their population center.”
Hashem refuted this.
“They know more than me that this is not the truth,” he said. “It is good to face civilians…but when it face a superior power, it will collapse right away.”
Low morale, low defections
Morale in the Syrian army, Hashem said, is “very, very low.”
Nonetheless, fear of immediate retribution is keeping a lid on potential defections. Undercover security officers, Hashem said, are present in every army unit to ensure loyalty.
If the undercover security agent believes that someone, no matter the rank, is going to defect, “he can execute him right away, on the spot, without any hesitation, and no question will be asked.”
A fight to the end
Hashem believes that the idea of a political solution in Syria is nonsense. He served under Bashar Assad’s father, Hafez Assad, who violently put down an uprising in the Syrian city of Hama twenty years ago.
There is “no way, ever” that Bashar Assad would step down, Hashem said.
“It concerns a huge establishment of so many thousands of people benefitting from this regime,” he said. ‘There is no way for a peaceful solution, in any way.”
Either the international community intervenes, or Assad will continue to slaughter his people, Hashem said. Either way, Syrian opposition forces will not surrender.
“The Syrians will continue fighting this regime forever and ever,” Hashem said. “If he kills eighteen million people, yes, he will put an end to this revolution. Other than that, there is no way.”
CNN’s Claire Calzonetti produced this piece for television.