“If there was anything that Syria did,
it was to validate the fact that
there is no Russia tie.”
Donald Trump’s son Eric Trump,
The Daily Telegraph, 10 April 2017
Syria - Tomahawk Strike 06 April 2017
The United States fired 60 Tomahawk missiles at Syria on 06 April 2017 from the USS Porter and the USS Ross [59 headed towards targets, while one failed soon after launch]. Donald Trump notified the Kremlin an hour in advance of the attack so the Russians could get their personnel, and Syrian personnel, out of harms way. Donald Trump's national security advisor Herbert McMaster said in a statement after the US missile strike that the United States "took great pains" to avoid Russian casualties.
The missiles struck the Syrian military airfield in Ash Sha'irat located about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the city of Homs in retaliation for the regime of Bashar Assad using nerve agents to attack his own people. Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis issued a statement providing details of the strike. It took place at about 8:40 p.m. EDT -- 4:40 a.m. April 7 in Syria, he said. "Every precaution was taken to execute this strike with minimal risk to personnel at the airfield.” Russian forces were notified in advance of the strike using the established deconfliction line, Davis said, and US military planners took precautions to minimize risk to Russian or Syrian personnel at the airfield.
Syrian military personnel, as well as equipment, were evacuated from the Shayrat (Ash Sha’irat) Airfield in Homs Governorate, Syria, prior to the late Thursday US missile attack, media reported. The missile strike damaged runways, towers and traffic control buildings at the airbase, but personnel had been evacuated and equipment was moved ahead of the strike. Syria's state-news agency SANA gave a death toll of nine civilians, including four children.
On April 4, the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces said some 80 people were killed and 200 injured earlier that day in a chemical weapons attack in Khan Shaykhun, Idlib province, blaming the Syrian army for the incident. The Syrian army rejected the accusations and blamed militants and their patrons for the attack. Russia's Defense Ministry said Syrian aircraft hit a militants' arms warehouse with chemical weapons to be delivered to Iraq.
Critics raised doubts about what became the official White House narrative on the chemical attack in Idlib. Former US intelligence officers, including Ray McGovern, Phil Giraldi and Bill Binney [aka the ususal suspects], even wrote a memo to Trump calling for an honest, independent investigation – as Lavrov would discuss in his press conference with Tillerson. The official narrative was also debunked by MIT professor Ted Postol as "totally false."
The attack on Al-Shayrat Air Base, the base from which the chemical attack on Syria’s Idlib province was launched from U.S. Navy ships in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. “Bashar al-Assad launched a horrible chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians,” Trump said in a statement to the nation. “Using a deadly nerve agent, Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children. It was a slow and brutal death for so many. Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack. No child of God should ever suffer such horror.”
"We were informed of the attack in advance. Moreover, Moscow and Damascus have an agreement on the division of authority in Syria, and Russia's air defense systems are responsible only for protecting our soldiers and technology. It's Syrian air defense troops that are responsible for protecting Syrian bases," said Sergei Rogov, a scholar at the Institute of the U.S. and Canada.
The strike was conducted using Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles, or TLAMs, launched from the destroyers USS Porter and USS Ross in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, Davis said in his statement. A total of 59 TLAMs targeted aircraft, hardened aircraft shelters, petroleum and logistical storage, ammunition supply bunkers, air defense systems, and radars.
Shayrat is located 200 kilometers inside the territory of Syria, away from the Russian air defense. Part of the missile could pass in the Golan Heights, part of Lebanon by using the terrain for cover. So, the missiles were at an altitude of about 50 meters straight through the valley. Russian air defense, stationed in Tartous and Hmeymim not seen missiles that are in radar blind spot.
Russia's Ministry of Defense said that only 23 of the 59 missiles had reached their target. Photos posted on social media appeared to show unexploded ordnance around the air base and in surrounding civilian areas. The Russian Defense Ministry said the American missiles destroyed key Syrian Air Force infrastructure: runways, refueling stations and MiG-23 planes in their hangars. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the attack destroyed an equipment depot, a training building, a cafeteria, six MiG-23 aircraft in servicing hangars and a radar station. According to the Syrian and Russian military, six Syrian soldiers were Killed, nine civilians in a nearby village were killed or wounded and nine Syrian jets were destroyed.
A Sputnik correspondent reported earlier in the day from the scene of the attack that some hardware had been salvaged, including five Syrian fighter jets. The runway also seemed to have been spared, he said, as well as a few hangars, but eight others were taken out of service. "Turns out everything is maybe not as bad as it seemed in the beginning, because at first there was fire and smoke, and we still are unable to get everywhere, because there can be unexploded projectiles," the employee said.
ImageSat International experts determined that 58 of the 59 Tomahawk missiles that were launched hit their targets. Theie imagery also revealed that 34 of the targets were completely destroyed: 13 protected aircraft hangars for warplanes and aircraft, 5 hangars for repairing aircraft, 10 ammunition supply bunkers, 5 anti-aircraft SA6 batteries and the Syrian Army’s radar system. The rest of the targets were damaged.
- Russia rejected Western claims that President Assad’s regime carried out the chemical attack, and blamed rebel fighters for the incident. Russian President Vladimir Putin called the attack an "aggression against a sovereign nation" on a "made-up pretext." The Kremlin said in a statement the U.S. action had inflicted "considerable damage" to already "lamentable" U.S.-Russia ties. Russia’s Foreign Ministry suspended an airspace safety memorandum with the United States for Syria. The agreement, which minimized the risk of accidents by communicating flight paths, was made after Moscow in September 2015 began a bombing campaign against rebels and jihadists in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Despite having anti-missile systems in Syria, and the warning time, Russia apparently made no attempt to intercept the Tomahawks.
- Syrian Armed Forces General Staff said that the US missile strike on Syria's military airfield was a violation of international law. Homs Governor Talal Barazi said that the airbase had suffered insignificant damage after the overnight attack with US cruise missiles. According to Barazi, the attack left five servicemen and two civilians dead.
- Iran "strongly condemned" the U.S. strike, saying the "unilateral action is dangerous, destructive and violates the principles of international law." ISNA news agency quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi as saying "Iran strongly condemns any such unilateral strikes ... such measures will strengthen terrorists in Syria ... and it will complicate the situation in Syria and the region".
- North Korea considers Syria as a key ally and criticized the US action. The North's foreign ministry on Saturday called the missile strike a "clear and unforgivable act of aggression against a sovereign state," and proof "a million times over" that the North's decision to strengthen its military power was the right choice.
- China's Foreign Ministry has called on all sides to stick to political settlements.
- UN Secretary-General said in a statement he appeals for restraint in Syria after the United States launched a missile attack on an airfield in the country and has called on the relevant parties to renew their commitment to the Geneva talks to achieve lasting peace.
- Britain’s Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said “Faced with this first test of the slaughter of nearly a hundred people, including children, from a gas attack by the regime, the Trump administration has acted and we believe rightly and we fully support that action”y.
- German Foreign Ministry Spokesman Sebastian Fischer said "No one can say that no other roads were tried to prevent or to end the use of chemical weapons." German Chancellor Angela Merkel said "The attack of the United States is understandable given the dimension of the war crimes, given the suffering of innocent people, and given the blockage in the U.N. Security Council”.
- French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said the "use of chemical weapons is appalling and should be punished because it is a war crime." French President Francois Hollande said: "I consider this operation a response, which must now be pursued at the international level within the Framework of the United Nations”.
- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Ankara is ready to work with Washington in a more assertive policy towards the Syrian regime. He also criticized Moscow for its ongoing support of Damascus. "What happened in Idlib on Tuesday proved again that the bloody Assad regime show complete disregard for the prospect of a political transition and efforts to enforce the ceasefire," read a statement by presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin.
- Saudi Arabia said it "fully supports" the strikes, adding that it was a "courageous decision" by President Donald Trump in response to the alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, in northwestern Syria. "A responsible source at the foreign ministry expressed the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's full support for the American military operations on military targets in Syria, which came as a response to the Syrian regime's use of chemical weapons against innocent civilians," a statement carried by state news agency SPA said.
- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he supports the "strong and clear message" sent by the US strikes. The Israeli military said it had been informed in advance of the attack. "In both word and action, President (Donald) Trump sent a strong and clear message today that the use and spread of chemical weapons will not be tolerated," a statement from Netanyahu's office said. "Israel fully supports President Trump's decision and hopes that this message of resolve in the face of the Assad regime's horrific actions will resonate not only in Damascus, but in Tehran, Pyongyang and elsewhere."
- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said his government supports the U.S. action as a means to "prevent further deterioration of the situation."
- Italy also gave its support, saying it was a suitable response to Syrian aggression. The strike was "a commensurate response ... and a signal of deterrence against the risks of further use of chemical weapons by Assad", Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano said in a statement.
- Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull also weighed in, saying that he supported the strike, calling it a "proportionate and calibrated response". In a televised statement, he also called on Russia to play its part in bringing peace to Syria.
"Having launched missile attacks on the Syrian airbase, Trump demonstrated pure madness, impulsiveness and a total geopolitical ignorance. This decision gives Russia and China no other choice but to form a strategic military and economic alliance. This is what Washington has tried to prevent in recent years," Konstantin Sivkov, head of the Russian Academy of Geopolitical Problems, told Radio Sputnik.
If Assad isn’t deterred, more attacks would mean more scenes of people foaming at the mouth in agony and bodies lying in heaps. Days earlier, the Trump administration had stressed that removing Assad from power was no longer a priority and that America’s focus was entirely on defeating an Islamic State insurgency in the north of the country.
Russia recorded hits of only 23 of the 59 Tomahawk cruise missile launched, representative of the Russian Defense Ministry, Major-General Igor Konashenkov said at a briefing in Moscow. "According to the Russian means of the objective control, to the Syrian air base cried down the whole place 23 missile drop the remaining 36 cruise missiles is not known." - he said. "Thus, the combat effectiveness of the US massive missile attack on Syrian air base - is extremely low," - he added. According Konashenkova, Syrian Air Force lost six MiG-23. In addition, radar and other property were destroyed. "As a result of the impact destroyed the warehouse logistics property, educational building, dining room, six were in the repair hangar aircraft MiG-23, as well as radar runway, taxiways and aircraft of Syrian Air Force in parking lots are not damaged.", - said the general. "Panorama shooting with Russian drone shows that the main blow fell on the perimeter of the base, and there are craters hit at a distance of 50 to 100 meters away from most of the runway, taxiways and base infrastructure objects".
Just a day after it was struck by cruise missiles, the Syrian air base targeted by the US was operating again. The governor of Syria's Homs province confirmed that Syrian warplanes had taken off from Shayrat and that the air base has resumed flights.
A joint command center made up of the forces of Russia, Iran and Lebanon's Shiite group Hezbollah supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad issued a statement 09 APril 2017 slamming the U.S. strike on a Syrian air base Friday and saying that Washington had already crossed many "red lines" in Syria. "America waging an aggression on Syria is a crossing of red lines,” read the statement issued in Arabic and published by the group on media outlet Ilam al-Harbi (War Media). “From now on we will respond with force to any aggressor or any breach of red lines from whoever it is and America knows our ability to respond well."
“Russia and Iran will not allow America to dominate the world and impose a unipolar system through its direct assault on Syria by violating international laws and not working within the framework of the United Nations,” the statement warned, adding that the two allies would “stand up to America no matter what.”
The US strike came 77 days into Donald Trump's presidency, two and a half months marked by unprecedented hostility between the US media and a new administration. But nothing changes the narrative quite like pictures of a few Tomahawk missiles being launched into the night sky. And the tone shifted. Journalists praised Trump's decisiveness, his morality, and the might of the US military. He was described as something he'd seldom been accused of - being 'presidential.' There are plenty of media angles in this story: from the haunting images of victims of chemical weapons, the impact the pictures are said to have had on Trump, to the video supplied by the Pentagon from those warships that is now driving the story.
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