Today is Saturday, April 14 and, as the world knows, the United States, United Kingdom and France launched attacks against Syria last night beginning around 9:00 PM eastern US time. We know this is true because news reports from the US, UK, France, Russia, Syria and Arab nations all confirm an attack took place. Both sides confirm it. But that's about ALL we can confirm, because the "spin" after the attack is brutal. Both sides are offering widely conflicting reports about the success/failure of the attack. I will try to sort through it.
The early morning coalition strikes on Syria’s chemical weapons infrastructure Saturday destroyed three critical targets, crippling the Syrian regime’s ability to create chemical weapons.
“We sent a very clear message last night,” Pentagon spokesman Dana White explained Saturday, further commenting, “We hope he [Syrian President Bashar al-Assad] heard it.” Around 4 a.m. in Syria, American, British, and French naval and aviation assets opened fire on multiple targets associated with the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons program.
The three targets included the Barzah research and development center in Damascus, Him Shinshar chemical weapons storage facility near Homs, and the Him Shinsar chemical weapons bunker. Marine Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. described the coalition strikes on these targets as “precise, overwhelming, and effective.” He added that coalition forces “delivered a very serious blow” to the “heart” of Syria’s chemical weapons program.
British, French, and American air and naval assets in the Red Sea, the North Arabian Gulf, and the Eastern Mediterranean hammered the above sites with more than one hundred missiles.
Located in the Red Sea, the Ticonderoga-class cruiser USS Monterey and Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Laboon fired more than a dozen Tomahawk missiles. The Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Higgins fired Tomahawk missiles from the North Arabian Gulf while a French frigate and the American Virginia-class submarine John Warner launched various missiles out of the Eastern Mediterranean.
From the air, B-1B Lancers fired 19 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles (JASSMs) while British Tornadoes and Typhoons launched multiple Storm Shadow missiles alongside French Rafales and Mirages firing off SCALP cruise missiles.
This multinational response reportedly “overwhelmed Syrian defenses,” which were primarily employed after the coalition strike had ended. “No Syrian weapon had any affect on anything we did,” McKenzie explained.
The Barzah research and development center was hit with 76 missiles, including 57 Tomahawks and 19 JASSMs. This site, a critical facility for the research, development, and production of chemical weapons, “does not exist anymore,” McKenzie revealed.
The Him Shinshar chemical weapons storage facility was struck by 22 missiles, including nine American Tomahawk missiles, eight storm shadows, three naval cruise missiles, and two SCALP missiles. The other Him Shinshar facility was hit by a total of seven SCALP missiles.
The U.S. is “still conducting a detailed damage assessment,” but officials believe the U.S. and its allies “accomplished our objectives,” Mckenzie told reporters.
“The use of chemical weapons anywhere in the world is an inexcusable violation of international law, and the United States will not tolerate it,” White stated clearly in her remarks at the Pentagon.
Perhaps the most surprising news surrounding the US, British and French strike on Syria Saturday morning was the report that the country's Air Defense Force managed to shoot down 70% of the Western cruise missiles launched. Sputnik looks at how the Syrians managed to do it.
The Western attack, executed this morning at 4:00 am Syrian time on April 14, saw US Navy warships in the Red Sea and Air Force B-1B bombers and F-15 and F-16 aircraft rain dozens of ship and air-launched cruise missiles down on the Syrian capital of Damascus, an airbase outside the city, a so-called chemical weapons storage facility near Homs, and an equipment storage facility and command post, also near Homs. B1-Bs are typically armed with JASSM cruise missiles, which have a 450 kg warhead and a range of 370 km. US Navy warships launched Tomahawks, which have 450 kg warheads and an operational range of between 1,300 and 2,500 km.The British Royal Air Force's continent for the assault consisted of four Tornado GR4 ground attack aircraft armed with the Storm Shadow long-range air-to-surface missile, which the UK's Defense Ministry said targeted 'chemical weapons sites' in Homs. These weapons have a range of 400 km.
Finally, France sent its Aquitaine frigate, armed with SCALP naval land attack cruise missiles (SCALP the French military's name for the Storm Shadow), as well as several Dassault Rafale fighters, also typically armed with SCALP or Apache cruise missiles.
According to the Russian defense ministry, the B-1Bs also fired GBU-38 guided air bombs.
Undoubtedly weary of the prospect of having their aircraft shot down after Israel lost one of its F-16s over Syria in February, the Western powers presumably launched their weapons from well outside the range of Syrian air defenses, with all the targets located just 70-90 km of the Mediterranean Sea, and having to fly through Lebanon first.
Several hours after the strikes, the Russian Defense Ministry reported that the majority of the missiles launched were intercepted by Syria's Air Defense Force, who shot down some 71 of the 103 cruise missiles detected. This included the interception of all 12 missiles launched at the Al-Dumyar airbase northeast of Damascus. Syrian media, for its part, reported that the military had destroyed 20 missiles over Damascus alone.
Furthermore, although the Syrian military does have some modern air defenses, including the Pantsir-S1 combined short-to-medium range surface to air missile (SAM) and anti-aircraft artillery system, the cruise missile attack was repelled mostly by upgrades of 30+ year old equipment, including variants of the Buk self-propelled missile system, the S-125 air defense system, and the S-200, an aging but tried and tested SAM introduced into the Soviet military in the late 1960s.
According to Russian military observers, Syria's most formidable air defense systems are its Pantsirs and BuK-M1-2 and Buk M-2Es, which can shoot down F-15s from 45 km away and simultaneously track and destroy up to two dozen enemy targets. Furthermore, the S-125 Pechora remains a problem for NATO, despite its age. In March 2015, Syria shot down a US Predator drone in Latakia using the system. Finally, of course, there are those S-200s, which have an operational range of 300 km. It was one of these that shot down the intruder Israeli F-16 in February 2018.
It's unclear at this point whether the US and its allies will limit their strikes to Saturday's attack, or launch further attacks in the future. In any case, the attack has already prompted Moscow into considering providing Damascus with its S-300 long-range SAM system. "Taking into account what happened, we consider it possible to return to this issue," the Russian General Staff said in a statement.
(Editor's Note: The Pentagon DENIES any of its missiles were shot down. The other side says 71 of 103 were shot down. Two VERY different stories. Both sides have reason to lie: the US to conceal a terrible failure, the Syrians/Russians to conceal their vulnerability.)
For the truth, we look to reports that came in AS THE ATTACK OCCURRED. These raw reports are what's known as "excited utterances." They are emotion-driven at the time they are made, and carry great credibility as far as I am concerned.
EXPLOSIONS REPORTED AT AL-MAZZAH AIRBASE AND THE FORTH DIVISION HQS
HUGE BLASTS HEARD IN SYRIA CAPITAL
Syrian air defenses could be heard responding to incoming rockets Damascus
According to local sources Russian air defense is involved in intercepting US cruise missles above #Damascus
Russia Firing S-400's
Multiple explosions heard around #Damascus and #Homs city. The Research Center in Barzeh and one of the Republican Guards bases on Qasioun Mountain are among the targets
Both sides are not being truthful.
The US obviously lost _some_ of the missiles launched, -- there are videos showing Syrian missiles hitting inbound missiles in the air -- but probably not nearly were Intercepted as claimed by Sputnik.
I can confirm that Russia is incandescent with rage, not because of the strike, they knew that was coming. However, they were not given timing or locations, unlike the previous strike by Trump.
The Russian government was expecting a full pre-briefing at the highest levels (again, as before) and were met with nothing. America even continued business as usual on the deconfliction hotlines and gave no hint.
They were totally in the dark.
The bottom line: An attack was launched, it hit SOME targets and not others. The US, UK and French High tech weaponry is not nearly as effective as we all thought when confronted even by very old Soviet technology.
The world is no safer today than it was yesterday, but relations are ruined, the rule of law is smashed and we have not heard the end of these troubles.