Syria ordered twenty 9K33(NATO name: SA-8 Gecko) systems in 1977, these, accompanied by six hundred missiles were delivered in the 1979-1981 timeframe. A further batch was acquired in 1982, this batch consisting forty three launchers and fifteen hundred missiles, The large number of missiles also replacing the spend one's during the 1982 Lebanon war.(1)
The 9K33 Osa's are mainly stationed around Damascus, protecting the major Republican Guard sites. One battery is also stationed in the vicinity of Burj islam, probably protecting Minat al-Bayda naval base.(2)
The combat history of the 9K33 in Syrian service is unknown, some source suggest it shot down a couple of planes during the 1982 Lebanon war.(3) Operation Desert Storm showed us that the 9K33 is ineffective at dealing with fast jets backed by Electronic Warfare(EW) assets, something which the Israelis are known using in their raids against Syria. The SyAAF(Syrian Arab Air Force) lacks such equipment though. The 9K33 was also seen during the live firing exercise of the Syrian Air Defense Force. This footage can be seen here.
As seen in the in the video below, Liwa al-Islam captured a single 9K33 unit on the 6th of October 2012. Two 9K33 units were captured in total.
The 9K33 in this video was captured with atleast six missiles. The capture of more missiles in the vicinity of the base sounds likely but was not seen in the video.
Watch Liwa-al Islam operating the system down below:
A press release by the Liwa al-Islam press bureau told us the following:
Joyful news circulated by social media pages today which is the news of the heroes of brigade of Islam using of air defense missile system batteries gained in one of the raids almost a year ago, during which they worked unremitting efforts to decipher the codes of the system and run it, and after many attempts and insistence of the operators of the project to continue till they achieve the success they hoped for after many engineers failed to decode its codes till God graced them to try it yesterday at the Battle of mills which the regime tried to retrieve desperately after it was dominated by the Mujahideen so the Mujahideen of Brigade of Islam shot down a helicopter by the Russian-made OSSA system resulted in the death of two colonels and an officer on board of the helicopter.
To be continued!