The Syrian air force is considering using kamikaze pilots against attacks by western forces, a Syrian army officer operating air defenses near Damascus has claimed in an interview with the Guardian.
The officer told the British newspaper 13 pilots had signed a pledge this week saying they would form "a crew of suicide martyrs to foil the US warplanes."
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The Assad loyalist, in his 30s and serving with the Syrian army's air defense section 10 miles from the capital, told the Guardian: "If the US and British armies launch a single rocket we will launch three or four, and if their warplanes raid our skies they will face hell fire.
"If we are unable to shoot down their warplanes with artillery, we have military pilots who are ready to attack these foreign warplanes by their own warplanes and blow them up in the air," he said.
The Guardian said the officer has been in contact with the paper on several occasions over the last 12 months during which time he provided reliable information about battles between the troops of Bashar Assad and rebel groups. He has declined to provide accounts of events where he has not served.
"We have more than 8,000 suicide martyrs within the Syrian army, ready to carry out martyrdom operations at any moment to stop the Americans and the British. I myself am ready to blow myself up against US aircraft carriers to stop them attacking Syria and its people," he told the Guardian.
Addressing the chemical attack last week on the outskirts of Damascus, he denied the involvement of government forces and said news of the gassing had come as a shock.
"Why would we use chemical weapons in Al Ghouta, when we have government forces where the attack happened? Over the last few days we have launched a military operation called Capital Shield to protect Damascus and its countryside. We managed to get 75% of the way through the process, but then we were shocked to learn about the chemical weapons in Al Ghouta," he said.
According to the officer, the morale of the Syrian army was high. "They have to know that Iran and Hezbollah fighters will be fighting with us, hand-in-hand. We have an alliance of protection. We are the resistance axe in the Arab world," he said.
"We are ready for anything. Only God can take our souls, not America or Britain. The US and UK have been threatening us for more than two years now, they think we would care, but they are stupid to think so. We have been fighting the most criminal terrorists in the world and we have not given up or become tired," the officer told the Guardian.
"The Syrian army is at the highest state of alert now. We have taken all measures to avoid the air onslaught and all our rockets are ready now to be launched. We are expecting the US and British forces to attack specific targets, so the Syrian army has changed most of its positions and many barracks and brigades have been moved to different sites."
Reuters news agency said Assad's forces appeared to have evacuated most personnel from army and security command headquarters in central Damascus in preparation for a western military strike.
"It is unbelievable what is happening now in Syria," the officer said. "Lots of Syrian men are flocking to checkpoints asking to join the army to fight for Syria, though some of them were previously with the opposition."
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