The Monitor has learned that a Soviet airlift to Syria is under way in the wake of Syrian setbacks in the Lebanon war.
Six Soviet planes, assumed to be TU-22 transport planes, have ferried some 600 tons of military equipment to Syria during the past two days. It has not yet been ascertained exactly what the airlifted military equipment consists of.
The disclosure follows well-publicized reports that Col. Gen. Yevgeny S. Yurasov, a first deputy commander of the Soviet air defense system, has been in Damascus since Sunday night. He is thought to be in the Syrian capital assessing Syrian military needs. Western defense experts estimate that about one-quarter of Syria's Soviet planes were knocked out of action. The Israelis also claimed to have wiped out all of Syria's 19 surface-to-air missile batteries in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley.
Resupplying of the Syrian arsenal by the Soviets was expected. Syria has a friendship and cooperation treaty with Moscow.