Link to the first AMA with Staff Colonel Ismael Ayoub.

syriancivilwarAMA Part 2

As promised, here's the second pilot that agreed for an AMA. Please submit your questions and I will try to have the answers for you in about 24 hours. Once again I ask you to be patient. It's Ramadan now and I can't get in touch with him always due to time difference and internet connection issues on his part.

Today we have

BIO: Colonel Abdulsatar Al-Assaf from the city of Hama. 49 years of age. I graduated from the Air Force Academy in late 1988. I flew the MBB 223 Flamingo, the PAC MFI-17 Mushshak for training and the Aero L-39 Albatros. I also flew the Mig-21MF during active duty. I was mainly an instructor and I served at ''Ksheish'' military airport and the Academy at ''Kweiress'' military airport. I instructed Yemeni pilots in Yemen between 2010 and 2011. I defected in late December 2012. AMA


Comments: 195 • Responses: 36  • Date: 

Misguidedx50 karma

How would you feel about foreign countries involvement in the war?

syriancivilwarAMA23 karma

It's inevitable. Everyone needs to protect his interests. But unfortunately it's coming at a very high cost for the Syrian innocent population.

RooseveltsRevenge39 karma

How do you feel about the portrayal of The Syrian Civil war in western media?

syriancivilwarAMA30 karma

I'm not familiar with the western media. But from what I could gather is that the media is giving way too much attention to ISIS while the regime, which by the way is the root cause of the problem, is left to do as it wishes without accountability.

Eternally6530 karma

Where did you defect to, and why?

syriancivilwarAMA81 karma

I defected because I refuse to kill the population of Syria. I refuse to be a tool in the box of a murderous regime and I refuse to become the slave of a sectarian institution that uses me to commit crimes against the same people I swore to protect.

PratzStrike28 karma

At one point I remember reading about an American tank officer who was training Iraqi tank crews. The American gave the tank crews manuals on how to operate the tanks, and a few days later came back to find that the Iraqi tank officers had confiscated all the manuals because knowing how to drive the tanks and operate them were the only things that separated them from the rest of the crew and the officers wanted to retain the perks, honor, and higher pay of being officers. Is this something that happens in Syria's military as well, and/or the rest of the Middle East?

syriancivilwarAMA29 karma

Yes. There is a lot of that. We were not allowed to take initiative and push the limits of the aircraft, practice attack tactics, come up with new strategies. We requested many times to do some low deck exercises because our aircraft were so old they were no match to the Israeli F series jet fighters on high altitude. So our plan was to go low where we thought we'd have an advantage and they would not approve it.

RakWar19 karma

What were the incident/s that started you questioning your part in what you were doing and why you wanted no part of it by defecting?

Thank You

syriancivilwarAMA24 karma

Orders to bomb the civilians I took an oath to protect.

Pikalika16 karma

What was the turning point that make to defect?

syriancivilwarAMA32 karma

Orders from command and squadron leader to bomb civilian targets and the ruthlessness of the Alawite pilots who would drop their load on cities or villages and joke about it as if it was nothing.

zil16 karma

Hello and thank you for doing this,

In our military training, a part of the program does inject us with patriotism, but there's no anti Muslim mind wash propaganda involved.

Is anti-judaism, anti-israel or more of the same a part of the Syrian military training program?

Thank you, and Kul 'am wa enta bi-khair, from your Israeli friends. :)

syriancivilwarAMA11 karma

Actually that starts since pre-school but we all know its empty talk by the time we reach the army. The level of sectarianism and discrimination outranks any hate for Israel.

Refer to my AMA at*

and read that of another pilot named Colonel Ismael Ayoub where he talks about it as well.

goosfraba7814 karma

Have there been a lot of defections from the Syrian Air Force?

syriancivilwarAMA15 karma

Yes but given the fact that 90% of the SyAF are Alawites, it wasn't a huge blow. My squadron was 33 pilots: 29 Alawites and 4 Sunnis. Sometimes there would be a Chrisitian or a Druze.

trajanconquers8914 karma

Do Syrians see ISIS as an Iraqi/foreign group invading their nation? And lastly, what kind of a government does the average person fighting against Assad want: democracy, khilafah, military rule, or something else?

syriancivilwarAMA19 karma

Right now ISIS is mainly comprised of foreigners so yes, the general sentiment I'd say is that they are a foreign group.

Democratic regime with a constitution that respects the Islamic doctrine and guarantees full and unequivocal protection to the minorities.

We lived in harmony with the minorities for decades before Assad came to power and I'm sure we'll do again.

DatDamnWolfy9 karma

What are the SAA/SAF etc. relations with the YPG/YPJ?

How do you feel about the Assad regime?

Also, Do you have any daily exercise you need to do, and if so, what is it?


syriancivilwarAMA4 karma

This question has been answered in lengthy detail at

Thank you for asking

whyhelloredditor9 karma

How do you feel about the Assad regime?

syriancivilwarAMA13 karma

Assad regime is paying the price of 45 years of oppression, marginalization and humiliation of the majority Sunni population. It also intertwined the fate of thousands of Alawites, Chrisitians and Druze along the way adding to the complexity of the conflict.

zasg18 karma

Have you flown any sorties against NATO aircraft? If so could you describe the experience? We usually only get to hear our side of the story.

syriancivilwarAMA7 karma

Never. not even against Israel.

ChuckNorrisAteMySock8 karma

What is it like to fly a MiG? How does it relate to other planes you've flown? I've always been fascinated with those aircraft.

syriancivilwarAMA12 karma

Mig-21 is an amazing plane to fly. Very agile, lethal, quick and highly maneuverable. They're build to sustain a good beating and they do. However its difficult to land due to its small wing surface and high speed touch down.

jon_stout7 karma

Is your family okay?

syriancivilwarAMA10 karma


Aaarya7 karma

Who drop the explosive drums over the cities of Syria and why ?

syriancivilwarAMA9 karma

You must have not read the bio carefully. The Colonel refused to participate in the bombing campaigns at his own risk and he defected afterwards.

ZiiCNess7 karma

What do you think about ISIS?

syriancivilwarAMA21 karma

Ignorants who are desecrating Islam and serving no purpose but to denigrate the image of Muslims all over the world. Also, surprisingly, they are benefiting Assad a lot because they get all the attention while he is left to drop TNT barrels and kill much more that ISIS is.

Steprichn6 karma

What do you think the future holds for Syria?

syriancivilwarAMA10 karma

Difficult to say. I only hope for peace now, but not any kind of peace. I hope for honorable peace where those who gave their lives would be proud of. Enough bloodshed.

Mwaski6 karma

Do you think the US should be more or less involved in the fight? What do you think the US doesn't understand about the Middle East conflicts?

syriancivilwarAMA13 karma

More in supporting the moderate factions. Provide an air embargo. I think the US understands very well the Mid East but unfortunately there are agendas to follow and sometimes those agendas don't necessarily take in account how much human lives are wasted or how much destruction will take place.

ThePonzo4 karma

do you think tourism in syria will ever be the same?

my heart is bleeding seeing all those great cultural sites in syria getting destroyed, one of the ones i worry the most is Krak des Chevaliers, my favourite castle in the world. I always heard syrian people were really welcoming and friendly towards tourists and travellers before the war.

syriancivilwarAMA5 karma

I'm optimistic it will be ok. The regime has destroyed some key elements and ISIS is often finishing the job after him. But I'm optimistic it will be ok.

migMAN_33 karma

Hi There!

Big Mig-21 fan here--have been interested in aviation all my life. Your post made me create this account to ask you about your experiences flying the Mig-21MF. I am not a pilot, but I love flying the DCS Simulator with the Mig-21bis module.

You mentioned in another reply that you wanted to practice new tactics but the upper echelon didn't approve. I'm really sorry to hear that. At least from my experiences in DCS, the only way I can overcome an F-15 is by flying low ~1500-2000m. The challenge beyond actually not getting blown out of the sky by a beyond visual range missile is staying high enough to let the radar work, but low enough to not be readily visible to enemies.

My question to you: Would you have considered turning off the radar altogether and flying below 1000m? The Mig-21 manual pretty much says not to do this, but I too wonder about how to use the Mig-21 to bring down more modern aircraft.

Still, its amazing how long this aircraft has served, and it still can hold its own in some theaters of war.

Thanks for the AMA. Glad to hear you are alive with a safe family.

syriancivilwarAMA6 karma

Yes you are right. We were actually taught to do so at the academy. You see, back in the days when the Mig-21 was still feared, pilots were not so afraid to face off with an F-15 or and F-16. The idea was to provoke the F-16 pilot and force him to descend below 2000 meters where the Mig would have advantage. The Mig back then had still very effective shooting range at low altitude and could get better visibility on target. However, if the Mig was forced to go up, it was at a great disadvantage because it was no match to the F-16 radar and the firing range which now a days can extend up to 100km if I'm not mistaking. Correct me if I'm wrong please.

This said, remember that low altitude flying is extremely exhausting to both the pilot and the plane. It's also very dangerous.

nighthawke752 karma

Who to root for in this war?

syriancivilwarAMA2 karma

Opression, injustice and humiliation of the Sunni majority as well as the other minority group but to a lesser extent. Sectarianism sums it all I guess. Assad sr. installed a sectarian rule where his family and people were put in key places and ran the country worst than a mob.

dmo72 karma

How do you feel the conflict will end? Will Syrian refugees be able to go back to the places they called home? Will they want to?

syriancivilwarAMA2 karma

We all hope for an end and sooner than ever. But as long as the regime is not willing to give in and concede to the demands of the rebels, they will continue to fight as long as it takes.

Hopefully yes. Being a refugee is not a fun thing and any refugee would tell you that he'd want to go back today before tomorrow including me. But how can you go when the regime is still dropping TNT barrels even over ghost cities?

ishabad2 karma

Truly, How bad of a dictator is Assad?

Who do you want to win the war?

syriancivilwarAMA3 karma

Just look at the death toll and you'll have your answer. Also factor in the estimated amount of rebuilding cost and you should get a clear picture. All for what? To stay in power!

This question has been answered in lengthy detail at

Thank you for asking

Owatch2 karma

The Syrian Airframe reportedly has few working aircraft left, and airstrikes are becoming rarer this year.

Do you know any pilots that have stayed? Do you think they have the men and equipment to sustain their air power much longer?

syriancivilwarAMA3 karma

The SyAF capabilities have decreased a lot. I estimate 20 to 30% loss in the fleet. The remaining aircrafts are not airworthy and lack spare parts. There are more aviation related accidents than actual shooting down in their ranks at the moment.

I don't think no. They have maybe 250 jets left of which many are inoperable. About 150 helicopters.

Owatch1 karma

I don't know if you have time to answer this, but might you have any insight into the men of the SAA, and why so many terrible atrocities seem to be committed by them?

I do not know a lot about Syria's history, but I imagine that before the civil war, it was pretty peaceful. How could people become so cruel right off the start of an uprising that began with simple spray painted messages on walls, etc?

Thank you for your time by the way.

syriancivilwarAMA6 karma

This is a very complex question. When Assad father took over power with a coup d'état in 1970, he immediately started placing his family and his Alawite people in key government positions and in the span of ten years they had a total control over the military institution. A sectarian rule was born right then.

Alawites are a minority in Syria and they hold deep feelings of resentment towards the Sunnis for various reasons. So they don't look at us as their equal but rather as inferior beings and that we are their slaves in some sort. There have been many events where massacres were committed towards the Sunnis. Palmyra prison massacre in 1980, Hama massacre in 1982, massive arrests and summary executions throughout the 80s.

Injustice and social inequality as well as high levels of corruption and favoritism became a daily reality. After the death of the father in 2000, his son took over and then another type of tyranny was installed. After securing the army and the government, they turned their attention to the economy and the Assad family with their cousins the Makhlouf started operating in a mafia like system. By the year 2011, the Makhlouf controlled almost 60% of the major businesses in the country. The Assads had their hands on the petroleum money since the 70s. They were obviously aided by Sunnis who profited from this.

All this culminated in what happened in 2011. The regime, unfortunately, instead of dealing with the problem with logic went on a vicious and violent rampage arresting, torturing and killing thinking that it could repeat the exploits of 1982 and silence any uprising. The only problem is that there was no internet, no youtube, no twitter and no mobile phones back in 82. Its crimes were public and exposed to the world to see.

officehelpermonkey2 karma

Do you still have any friends or family in Syria? If so are you in touch with them and know if they are safe?

syriancivilwarAMA2 karma

Yes. Many. We stay in touch whenever possible.

aviator141 karma

Did you ever get any MIG-25 time? If so, what was flying the aircraft like?

syriancivilwarAMA2 karma

Unfortunately no.

Nasty_Taint1 karma

Where are you and your family living now and how are you currently employed? Are you still flying?? If not, do you see yourself returning to aviation in the future??

syriancivilwarAMA4 karma

I'm outside of Syria. I cannot disclose my location for security reasons since not only the regime wants us gone but ISIS too. No I'm not employed and I don't fly anymore. I love aviation and I hope to one day return and train free Syrian pilots who will fight for a united Syria and not for a family.

syriancivilwarAMA3 karma

I'm outside of Syria. I cannot disclose my location for security reasons since not only the regime wants us gone but ISIS too. No I'm not employed and I don't fly anymore. I love aviation and I hope to one day return and train free Syrian pilots who will fight for a united Syria and not for a family.

mojo201 karma

Colonel, could you talk about your defection? What point did you decide to leave? Was your decision driven by a particular act or order? Or was it more of a gradual process? Once you decided to leave how did you defect?

syriancivilwarAMA7 karma

When the revolution sparked, we were kept under close watch at Ksheish airport. We were very afraid at the beginning and didn't know what to do. Then when they started using the aviation against the population, a wave of defection occurred. As a matter of fact, two of my students defected, now they're in Sweden and Denmark if I remember correctly. Ksheish airport had become the base for all the sorties targeting Maskané, Deir Hafer and The Assad Lake as well as some parts of Tabaqa. My squadron leader, and Alawite, would only choose Alawite pilots for the mission. So the sunni pilots were grounded (our squadron comprised of 32 pilots). Then the squadron leader started to ask me to carry out missions. They wanted to implicate us the Sunnis so that they would make us feel guilty and test us. I refused to carry out any mission. Such refusal carries the death penalty but I was very lucky. Earlier in 2011, when I was training Yemeni pilots in Yemen, I contracted a kidney disease there and I was urinating blood sometimes. This was indicated in my report so I used it as a pretext that I was fit to fly. So by August 20th, 2012 the Moukhabarat summoned me and asked me why I wasn't flying, I explained my self and they seemed to be convinced so I was spared. Others were not so lucky and some were forced to fly missions especially in the two seater Albatros where they would ask the Sunni pilot to fly as a navigator and the front pilot who has all the controls would fire and deploy bombs.

During that time we were under siege at Ksheish and for months we could not go out. Only planes would be able to leave. I was afraid that the rebels would break in and I would get caught in the line of fire. Little did I know that in reality my own brothers were with the rebels and they were trying to find a way to free me and any other pilot that wanted to defect. I found that out later on. We were ordered to stay armed at all times and to expect confrontation at any given moment. I had to have my AK-47 in proximity at all time. Full armor vest with ammo and my pistol cocked and ready to fire in my holster. I spent some scary days back then. I didn't know who was going to kill me first.

In early Dec. 2012, they started moving all the high ranking officers from Ksheish to Kweiress which btw was 2 minutes away by air. I started complaining of pain and they accepted to transport me so I flew on a helicopter flown by an Alawite colonel named Waleed Darwish. We took off at night with all lights turned off to avoid rebel fire and still got hit with three bullets as we landed in Kweiress. I called a doctor with whom I had already spoken earlier using an mobile phone that was smuggled to us in Ksheish. He ordered the moukhabarat to let me go to the hospital. They insisted on accompanying me because I was a high rank and I needed protection. I told them no and that it's better for their own safety. Obviously they wouldn't refuse such offer. Accompanying me was dangerous indeed in case we hit a rebels ambush. As soon as I got out I was met by a captain that defected earlier and from there I was spent time going from one city to another in Idlib till I reached Turkey where I put my family in safety and returned back to Syria.

bzfoster1 karma

What are your thoughts on the kurds? Do you view them as an unlikely ally? Has the war changed your thoughts of them?

syriancivilwarAMA2 karma

This question has been answered in lengthy detail at

Thank you for asking

JeepGuy3161 karma

I'm Assyrian and some of my fellow Assyrians have been captured by isis in Syria. What is the general reaction to this? How are Assyrians viewed since we are the Christian minorities? Thanks!

syriancivilwarAMA3 karma

I think of all minorities in Syria as an integral part of Syria and they are to be granted all their rights within a national constitution. Assyrians are as Syrian as Kurds. The were there for decades before Assad came to power and they will stay there after he's gone. As for ISIS they do not represent us Muslims. Islam is free of them and of their actions.

Cunt_zapper1 karma

Hello from California.

I have two questions:

  1. What aircraft was the most enjoyable to fly and why?

  2. You said you've mostly been a trainer, but you also mentioned flying the MiG-21 in active duty. Did you ever fly combat missions in it? If yes, what were they like? Have you ever been in a dog-fight?

syriancivilwarAMA3 karma

Hello to you from Free Syria,

  1. To me it's the Mig-21 for its agility and high maneuverability.

  2. No. I graduated after 88. By then there were no more conflicts so I never had the chance to engage with an enemy.

Spider-Pug1 karma

Picture number 4 in the proof, shows you standing in front of the MiG 29. Did you fly that also?

syriancivilwarAMA2 karma

Account manager here.

Colonel Al-Assaf did not fly the MIG-29, it was simply a photo he provided for proof of him serving in the SyAF. He flew the MIG-21 and the L-39 Albatros.

flintforfire1 karma

Are you in a western country now? How are you enjoying the current place you're living? Any experiences with racism? You are a brave man for doing the right thing.

syriancivilwarAMA1 karma


It's not my country so I don't feel home. It's difficult but I have no choice.

Roderick111-78 karma

Why haven't the fucking retard mods deleted this post? No answer in 6 hours? Is that enough questions for you?

syriancivilwarAMA48 karma

Account manager here

It says I need 24 hours to answer. I need to translate your questions to Arabic, then back to English, get intouch with him. He lives thousands of miles away. C'mon!

Plus he lives in a warzone