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Operation Dafe had devastated the Free Syrian army and while they were making ground in the north due to a lack of opposing Government forces in the centre of the country they had been removed and were under heavy pressure in the south as one by one town was encircled and commonly Sarin gas was used to push them out of the towns. One by one they were removing opposition forces and then normally executing those who surrender.
This was giving them a lot of results as a number of towns had been retaken and there were predictions by the end of the year the civil war could be over.
While in the west they watched the media with disgust as they saw shootings of surrendered and children blinded by gas. While in the UN, the Russians blocked any attempt to do anything more than condemn and two resolutions to use military force were blocked.
The US Senate passed a resolution on the 6th June to allow air strikes for 30 days with the potential for renewal. While in the UK on the 8th June the British Parliament voted to allow air strikes in conjunction with NATO over Syria. US Congress voted on the 9th June to support the Senates resolution. NATO council met on the 16th June where it agreed to send in air strikes.
The process moved forwards but there was a lot of reluctance to do any action without UN approval which wasn't happening due to Russian interference. The NATO council had reached a decision could be down with or without UN support and it was up to individual states.
Over the next few days most European nations debated whether to commit their air forces to the fight in Syria
The French Senate on the 9th June allowed air strikes while the German Bundesrat voted to support the rebels with humanitarian aid. On the 10th June the EU parliament voted to support the rebels with humanitarian aid. On the 10th June as well the Canadian parliament voted to intervene. Turkey voted on the 12th June to participate and allow Incilrik air base to be used for air strikes.
On the 13th June many of the head's of state of NATO nations met for a summit in Belgium while their military leaders met as well to discuss the military plan. While NATO leaders met for 3 hours the NATO military leaders met for 20 to plan the campaign and the operation day was set for the 17th June.
Preparations had hardly been secret with RAF Akitori and Incirlik air bases both being observed by Syrian intelligence services. The first wave of aircraft set off on the dawn on the 17th June and once the aircraft were nearby a NATO naval fleet opened fire.
The Syrian Arab Air Force scrambled their jets to meet the NATO aircraft as soon as they received news of the launch. While the initial naval sea to surface strike targeted every operational air base held by government forces as well as other fixed air defences most of the Syrian air force was already in the sky being sent to meet the incoming NATO patrols.
The missile strike from off shore while hit with a high degree of accuracy quite aware of how they would be struck most of the fuelling and arming of aircraft had been done the day before and then all the equipment had been pulled out and a number of airfields had been set up as quickly as possible in sometimes as quickly as 3 days to allow the returning aircraft to have somewhere to land.
NATO patrols found themselves outnumbered although their aircraft were far more modern. In the initial clash things went poorly for NATO with 6 aircraft shot down in air combat and by AA fire. While 3 pilots were forced to bail out inside Syrian territory and 1 of the pilots was captured while one was rescued and the other came down in rebel held territory and was repatriated.
Casualties among the Syrian air force were high with some 27 aircraft knocked out while the rest returned to their new hastily assembled bases.
At the same time Assad's tactical missile launcher force opened fire targeting Incilrik and Akitori air bases. While many of the hits were inaccurate they still managed to kill a number of personnel and civilians on and near base.
While Incilrik airbase was taken offline for about 8 hours with hard work it was up and running again while Akitori was only lightly damaged and the aircraft set about attacking Assad.
With the loss of 6 aircraft and the death of a few dozen people due to missile attacks convinced NATO far more in the righteous of their campaign. The second wave was largely high level reconnaissance aircraft tasked to locate the new bases Assad was operating out of and once they were found they were targeted.
Much of the first week was spent fighting Assad's air force and an additional 2 planes were lost with 1 to ground fire and 1 in air to air combat while continual NATO air strikes took a toll on Assad's air force and defences. Though much of his ground forces performed shoot and scoot tactics very well while the aircraft became adapt at landing on progressively lower and lower quality airfields.
After the first week the threat to aircraft significantly reduced after a large number of the more modern aircraft engaged one wave of aircraft attacking the highway between Damascuss only to be tracked back to the airfield they were operating out off where they were destroyed on the ground.
After this the government decided to suspend the air force's engagements until NATO involvement ended while their air defences would continue to engage attacking aircraft and use shoot and scoot tactics to avoid destruction.
With this NATO opened up the air campaign to attacking ground targets as the mandate for a no- fly zone was changed to attacking military targets aiding and abetting war crimes. The main attacks were changed to locating Assad's troops and material and neutralising it.
The initial attacks while went well against much of the larger more easily identifiable material such as tanks and artillery, attacks on ground troops were more difficult because they were hard to identify and separate between rebel and government troops with in many circumstances rebel forces being targeted.
Later as larger and larger numbers of NATO trained rebel forces appeared they were the main group being supported by air strikes against forces they were facing. Their were issues with opposition forces being targeted by NATO air strikes after having their ordnance directed by ISIL members masquerading as rebel forces.
It had always been clear to NATO planners that the war would be won on the ground and due to political issues no one believed a ground campaign would ever occur. So they gained the permission of Turkey, Jordan and Iraq to send trainers and equipment into these states and locate rebel training camps on the borders of these nations.
The program started on the 21st August when the first trial class of 120 were admitted after having crossed the Turkish border. The 120 were all given M16, BGM- 71 TOW and M60 machine guns, M224 mortars, radios, GPS, laser guidance equipment, clothing and trucks to carry the troops and heavy weapons. They were given 3 weeks training in weapons use and tactics.
The first 120 men were sent back into Syria and with heavy air support their initial fighting in Aleppo went well as they called in NATO air strikes down on strong government positions in coordination with their own well organized offensives. With this good start the program was expanded to have a lot larger numbers trained.
While this initially seemed a good idea screening of the programs entrants was poor with Islamic groups seizing on the opportunity to receive western training weapons and support. It is estimated up to half of the programs entrants would later defect of ISIL with no prompting.
This program from when it started in August 2012 to it's end in February 2013 recruited, trained and armed some 25,000 soldiers with about 10,000 of them defecting to ISIL at some point and with much of the troops who remained loyal being killed in the heavy fighting.
As the war continued on and stalemated in early September with neither side gaining significant ground and both sides having large casualties the US government had many people at home claiming they extending the conflict and causing more life loss rather than solving the problem.
The US President met with the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the 10th September and gave them the go ahead to eliminate President Assad rather than allowing the conflict to continue and so it was hoped it would bring a speedy end to the violence.
The CIA had started to track Assad's movement and those of senior officials even before NATO intervened in Syria but it was only now they were given the go ahead to kill him however necessary.
Using a combination of aircraft in the skies and teams deployed on the ground a large part of the radio traffic had been intercepted and decoded by the CIA. Through this they discovered on 5th October there was going to be a full government cabinet meeting although the location was still unsure.
In one successful air strike they could eliminate the entire Syrian government if they could find where the meeting was being held and the details of the meeting were a closely held secret. On the 2nd October the CIA desperate to obtain the whereabouts of the meeting sends in a SOG team to kidnap a minsters aide and then to launch an air strike to make it appear he was killed. After being moved to the NATO fleet offshore the aide was tortured by the CIA until they got the location of the meeting.
With the location of the cabinet meeting and time they got the final approval from President Obama to launch an air strike on the meeting aware of the political ramifications. As the meeting was roughly half way through 2 B-2 bombers armed with Mass Or dance Penetrators flew over the meeting and launched their missiles.