Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has been vicious in his use of air power against his opposition. That is the principal reason the death toll has been so high, counting more than 65,000 Syrian dead since 15 March 2011, the start of the uprising.
Almost from the beginning he was quick to use his attack helicopters against protesters and he has continuously escalated to the point that now he is dropping cluster bombs and incendiaries on opposition neighborhoods. Ever since the first Friday of "The No-Fly Zone" on 28 October 2011, the Syria people have demanded that a Libya type "No Fly Zone" be established to protect them from Assad's "Death from Above."
This has been denied them and the cost has been enormous in terms of human lives. President Barack Obama has been the most adamant of all the NATO leaders in denying the Syrian people a "No-Fly Zone" or the Syrian opposition any military support.
But Obama has taken it one step further, he has made it the business of the United States to see that the Syrian opposition received few heavy weapons from its supporters. Most especially, he has used our country's clout to "veto" precisely the weapon that the Syrian opposition has needed and demanded the most, MANPADS.
MANPADS are portable anti-aircraft missiles and everyone has known all along that they would be a game changer in Syria, as they have already proven to be in recent months since Assad's opposition, against Obama's best efforts, has managed to get their hands on them.
Bashar Assad has been able to slaughter his own people so easily from the air only because they lacked effective modern weapons with which to shoot down his aircraft. The lack of these weapons has probably allowed Assad to hang on for a year longer than he could have otherwise and cost the Syrian people, on both sides of this conflict, more than 50,000 unnecessary deaths.
Obama's "No MANPADS for You!" policy has had a very high price in Syrian blood. His stated reason for denying the Syrian opposition MANPADS has been his fear that they would fall into the hands of Islamic extremists.
Below the fold I will show how Obama's "No MANPADS for You!" policy with regards to the Free Syrian Army, has not only allowed Assad to hang on and extend this conflict into a third year, undoubtedly costing tens of thousands of Syrian lives, but also has had the unintended consequence of accomplishing precisely what Obama was seeking to avoid.
Now, as a result of Obama;s "No MANPADS for You!" policy, Islamic extremists in Syria are acquiring more MANPADS every week.