Syrian National Council publishes maps of Syrian air defenses **updated

Correction: The website mentioned in the below post is owned by James L'Angelle, a supporter of the Syrian National Council but not an official spokesman for the organization. As such, the images posted on the site -- which L'Angelle said that he took from another blog -- cannot provide insights into the workings of the SNC. The official website of the SNC is We regret the error.

The Syrian National Council (SNC), which was formed on Sunday as an umbrella coalition of groups opposed to President Bashar al-Assad's regime, hinted strongly that it was in favor of a no-fly zone over the country by publishing maps of Syrian air defenses on its website.

The SNC's web page on the implementation of a no-fly zone to protect Syrian civilians, similar to the one that exists over Libya, does not explicitly endorse such an option. It argues that while "the situation itself might warrant an air defense blanket," practical considerations make the creation of a no-fly zone more difficult.

But the pictures on the website tell a different story. Four detailed maps (1,2,3,4) show the placement of Syrian air defenses -- specifically the Soviet-designed S-25, S-75, S-125, and S-200 surface-to-air missiles, and the 2K12 "Kub" air defense system -- that an international force would presumably need to destroy to implement a no-fly zone. Another chart compares Syria's total number of anti-aircraft weapons, which it lists at 3,310, those of other nations.

SNC Chairman Burhan Ghalioun affirmed yesterday that the council "rejects any outside interference that undermines the sovereignty of the Syrian people." SNC members, however, have interpreted that statement to rule out the presence of foreign boots on the ground in Syria -- but not necessarily a no-fly zone.

Syrian National Council


Was Anwar al-Awlaki still a U.S. citizen?

Short answer, yes.

I got into this question a bit with an explainer earlier this month about Chris Jeon, the UCLA student who traveled to Libya to fight with the anti-Qaddafi rebels.

It was once possible to lose one's U.S. citizenship by fighting in another country's army against the United States -- whether Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula counts as an army is another question -- but as the legal blog Opinion Juris explained on Twitter this morning, the Supreme Court has found that unconstitutional under the 14th ammendment. Ironically, the virulently anti-Semitic cleric's citizenship was protected by a case that involved a dual U.S.-Israeli citizen fighting to keep his U.S. citizenship after voting in an Israeli election. 

In order to lose his citizenship, it must be shown that the U.S. citizen joined the foreign military or swore allegiance to another state "with the intention of relinquishing United States nationality" -- a very tough standard. There's no evidence that Awlaki ever formally renounced his U.S. citizenship. 

A bill was introduced in the House last year by Rep. Charles Dent (R-Penn.) which would have stripped Awlaki of his citizenship on the basis that his calls for attacks against the United States constituted a voluntary relinquishment, but it never made it out of subcommittee. In any event, the Obama adminsitration never denied Awlaki's citizenship when it targeted him for assassination.