On the 29th of July it appeared Jaish al-Islam used a 9K33 system (Osa) captured on the 6th of October 2012. Footage can be seen here.
Getting the Osa operational is a great military achievement from Jaish al-Islam. Something which many would have deemed impossible without the help of operators of the 9K33.
If such an operator is helping Jaish al-Islam gettting the 9K33 operational remains unknown. One thing is for sure though: Having an operational 9K33 system in the vicinity of Damascus makes the sky a very, very unfriendly place for the SyAAF.
Jaish al-Islam captured two 9K33 units in total. At least six missiles were also captured. The capture of more missiles in the vicinity of the base seems likely but was not seen in the video.
Jaish al-Islam's 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.''
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 replaced the spend one's during the 1982 Lebanon war.
The 9K33s 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.
The combat history of the 9K33 in Syrian service is unknown, some source suggest they shot down a couple of planes during the 1982 Lebanon war. Operation Desert Storm proved the 9K33 ino match for fighter aircraft backed by Electronic Warfare assets, something which the Israelis are known using in their raids against Syria. The Syrian Arab Air Force does not possess such equipment though.
Liwa al-Islam and her 9K33 Osa (2)