Russia claims Syrians shot down 71/103 missiles

Colonel General Sergei Rudskoy, Chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the Russian General Staff, 2018.04.14:

The US alongside its allies conducted a missile strike by its air and naval carriers targeting military and civil facilities of the Syrian Arab Republic on April 14 in the period from 3.42 am till 5.10 am (MSK).

The Russian air defence systems at the Khmeimim and Tartus air base timely located and controlled all naval and air launches made by the USA and the UK.

Announced French aircraft have not been registered by the Russian air defence systems.

It is reported that the B-1B, F-15 and F-16 aircraft of the USAF as well as the Tornado airplanes of the UK RAF over the Mediterranean Sea, and the USS Laboon and USS Monterey located in the Red Sea were used during the operation.

The B-1B strategic bombers approached the facilities over the Syrian territory near al-Tanf illegally seized by the USA.

A number Syrian military airfields, industrial and research facilities suffered the missile-bomb strike.

As preliminary reported, there are no civilian casualties and losses among the Syrian Arab Army (SAA). Information will be further specified and made public.

As evident by the available data, 103 cruise missiles have been launched, including Tomahawk naval-based missiles as well as GBU-38 guided air bombs fired from the B-1B; the F-15 and F-16 aircraft launched air-to-surface missiles.

The Tornado airplanes of the UK RAF launched eight Scalp EG missiles.

The Syrian air defence systems, which are primarily the USSR-made AD systems, have successfully countered the air and naval strikes.

In total, 71 cruise missiles have been intercepted. The S-125, S-200, Buk, Kvadrat, and Osa Syrian AD systems were involved in repelling the attack.

It proves high efficiency of the Syrian armament and professional skills of the Syrian servicemen trained by the Russian specialists.

Over the last eighteen months, Russia has completely recovered the Syrian air defence systems, and continues its development.

It is to be stressed that several years ago given the strong request by our western partners, Russia opted out of supplying the S-300 AD systems to Syria. Taking into account the recent incident, Russia believes it possible to reconsider this issue not only regarding Syria but other countries as well.

The strike targeted Syrian air bases as well. Russia has registered the following data.

Four missiles targeted the Damascus International Airport; 12 missiles – the Al-Dumayr airdrome, all the missiles have been shot down.

18 missiles targeted the Blai airdrome, all the missiles shot down.

12 missiles targeted the Shayrat air base, all the missiles shot down. Air bases were not affected by the strike.

Five out of nine missiles were shot down targeting the unoccupied Mazzeh airdrome.

Thirteen out of sixteen missiles were shot down targeting the Homs airdrome. There are no heavy destructions.

In total 30 missiles targeted facilities near Barzah and Jaramana. Seven of them have been shot down. These facilities allegedly relating to the so-called “Damascus military chemical programme” were partially destructed. However, the objects have not been used for a long time, so there were no people and equipment there.

The Russian air defence systems have been alerted. Fighter jets are on combat air patrol now.

There were no cruise missiles entering the Russian AD responsibility area. The Russian air defence systems were not applied.

Russia considers the strike to be a response to the success of the Syrian Armed Forces in fighting international terrorism and liberating its territory, rather than a response to the alleged chemical attack.

Besides, the attack took place on a day when the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) special mission was to start working on investigating incident in the city of Douma where chemical attack allegedly occurred.

It is to be stressed that there are no facilities on producing chemical weapons in Syria, and this has been documented by the OPCW.

The American aggression proves that the USA is not interested in objectivity of the ongoing investigation, seeks to wreck peaceful settlement in Syria and destabilize environment in the Middle East, and all these have nothing to do with declared objectives of countering international terrorism.

Currently the situation in Damascus and other settlements is assessed to be stable.The environment is being monitored.

Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr., Director of the ZOGUSA Joint Staff:

“No Syrian weapon had any effect on anything we did. … We successfully hit every target. … None of our aircraft or missiles in this operation were successfully engaged.”

Russia claims Syria air defences shot down 71 of 103 missiles

Moscow says Syria’s Soviet-era systems downed majority of US, UK and French missiles

Peter Beaumont and Andrew Roth in Moscow

The Guardian, 14 Apr 2018

The Russian military has claimed that the Syrian air defences, whose most modern weapon is a three-decades-old Russian-supplied anti-aircraft system, shot down 71 of 103 missiles fired by the US and its allies, the UK and France, a claim denied by the Pentagon.

As further details began to emerge about the sites targeted by the US-led strikes, Col Gen Sergei Rudskoi of the Russian military said the strikes had not caused any casualties and that Syrian military facilities suffered only minor damage.

It was not possible to verify the claims. The most up-to-date system that Moscow has supplied to the Syrian regime is the short range Pantsir S-1, which has an anti-missile capability.

Russia said its advisers had spent the last 18 months completely rebuilding the Syrian air defence system, and said the high number of intercepted rockets spoke to “the high effectiveness of the weaponry in Syria and the excellent training of Syrian servicemen prepared by our specialists”.

Although Russia suggested that Syrian forces had been responsible for manning their own air defences, Russian advisers have a long history of operating systems in such situations.

Video footage that emerged in the aftermath of the strikes appeared to show air defence missiles being launched.

The Pantsir – which has reportedly been used in the past to shoot down several drones and missiles in Syria – is far more modern than Syria’s other anti-aircraft systems that make up the backbone of the country’s air defences, some of which which first came into service in the Soviet Union in the late 1950s and 60s.

Syria claimed to have intercepted suspected Israeli missiles fired on a base earlier this month, while an Israeli jet was brought down in February.

Moscow said Syria used S-125, S-200, Buk and Kvadrat systems to repel the attack.

The US said three targets Russian officials named six airbases as specific targets of Saturday’s attacks, including al-Dumayr military airport, an airbase near the city of Homs, and the Shayrat airbase that was targeted in 2017.

Rudskoi said Syria had Soviet-made defence systems that Moscow has “completely overhauled”, including S-200 systems and Buk missiles.

He said Russian air defences in Syria – including state of the art S-400 coastal missile batteries located at the Russian naval base at Tartus and elsewhere – monitored the strike but did not engage any of the missiles.

Rudskoi said the Syrian military used Soviet-made air defence systems with high efficiency, shooting down all of the missiles aimed at four key Syrian airbases.

The most significant Russian response for the region, however, is likely to be the announcement that Moscow will consider supplying Syria with S-300 missiles in response to the attack.

Vladimir Putin said in 2013 after talks with EU leaders that Moscow had refrained from supplying the powerful S-300 air defence systems to Assad’s government.

While the supply of S-300s to Syria is unlikely to trouble the US military, their widespread deployment would make it much more hazardous for Israeli jets to target Syria as they have done with relative impunity until recently.

“Considering what has happened, we consider it possible to reassess this question and not just as far as concerns Syria, but other countries too,” Rudskoi said on supplying the missile system.

The latest raids have underlined how, despite the huge humanitarian cost of the war in Syria, the country has become a proving ground for some of the world’s most advanced weapons systems, deployed both by the US and Russia.

According to reports in the immediate aftermath of the attack, the strikes involved the first combat use of the JASSM advanced missile, reportedly fired from US B1-B Lancer heavy bombers.

The stealthy cruise missiles, which have a range of 230 miles (370km), can carry a 450kg warhead and use infrared sensors to guide themselves towards their targets. Each B1 can carry four.

The weapon, like others used in Saturday’s strikes, can be delivered from outside the Syrian and Russian air defences meaning that the aircraft and ships involved would not be exposed.

The use of the JASSM – which first came into use nine years ago – would fit with Donald Trump’s tweet this week warning Russia the US would respond with a “new” and “smart” missile.

Trump and Putin have been engaged in recent months in something of a rhetorical arms race over weapons systems and their capabilities, with Putin boasting of new hypersonic nuclear missiles and high-speed submarines before the recent presidential election.

Russia this year deployed its most advanced fighter jet to Syria, the stealth-capable Su-57.

Warship Ruse and New Stealth Missiles:

How the U.S. and Allies Attacked Syria

Bloomberg, April 15, 2018

  • Trump weighed five proposed target plans, person familiar says
  • ‘No Syrian weapon had any effect’ on strike, Pentagon says

President Donald Trump’s outrage over another apparent chemical weapons attack by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was clear. And for the second time in his presidency, the U.S. commander-in-chief demanded retaliation.

As images of sick or dying children flooded global media all week, the U.S. guided-missile destroyer USS Winston Churchill churned toward the Mediterranean to join a flotilla of allied warships, including another U.S. destroyer, the USS Donald Cook.

It was a ruse. [WOW! SO CRAFTY!]

While both vessels carry as many as 90 Tomahawk missiles — the main weapon used in the Friday evening strike on Syria — neither ship in the end fired a shot. Instead, according to a person familiar with White House war planning, they were part of a plan to distract Russia and its Syrian ally from an assault Assad’s government could do little to defend itself against.

It worked. Pentagon officials on Saturday said they faced little resistance to their targeted attack on what they said were three Syrian chemical weapons facilities. Most of the Syrian countermeasures, including defensive ballistic missiles, were fired after U.S. and allied weapons hit their targets, Lieutenant General Kenneth McKenzie told reporters on Saturday.

“No Syrian weapon had any effect on anything we did,” McKenzie said. He described the joint U.S., French and U.K. strike as “precise, overwhelming and effective.”

Brazen as it was perceived to be, the Assad regime’s decision to again use chemical weapons on own people didn’t by itself spur the U.S. to act. The Trump administration was also motivated by how closely the attack followed the use of a nerve agent to poison a Russian ex-spy and his daughter in England in March, an action the U.K. government and its allies blamed on Russia.

The English incident added to concerns held by Trump, his top aides, and leaders in the U.K. and France that not responding might encourage proliferation of chemical weapons, according to two administration officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the deliberations.

As the strategy of how to respond took shape, Trump appeared to telegraph his intentions to the world with a tweet on April 11: “Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!”’

Analysts suggested Assad’s regime would respond to Trump’s threats by protectively moving weapons and personnel away from likely targets. An already difficult battle plan — which required hitting Assad without provoking Russian reprisals or injecting the U.S. further into Syria’s seven-year civil war — was getting harder.

‘Big Price’

In the White House, Trump met with military officials and made several calls to his French and British counterparts, President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Theresa May, with the goal of following through on a threat to impose a “big price’’ on Syria — a vow made in an earlier tweet, on April 8.

During a meeting with the National Security Council and top military leaders early in the week, Trump had been presented five large target options — called sets — for potential strikes, according to the person familiar with the plans. The president largely listened as Pentagon chief Jim Mattis, Joint Chiefs Chairman Marine Corps General Joe Dunford and other military leaders did most of the talking. New National Security Adviser John Bolton — who started work on April 9 — and Vice President Mike Pence were also on hand.

The president asked Bolton and the military leaders to justify each potential target, and was particularly focused on limiting the risk of escalation by Russia. There was unanimity among Trump’s top national security staff about conducting strikes but debate about how hard to hit the Syrians, the person said.

Haley’s Voice

United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley was especially blunt in her assessment of the Syrian regime during meetings with Trump, the person said.

Haley told the UN Security Council on Friday that Assad and his Russian backers were to blame for the deaths of thousands of Syrian civilians. In a private meeting with Trump and national security officials earlier in the week, Haley was a leading voice pushing for a robust military response to the chemical weapons attack on humanitarian grounds, the person said.

Dunford told reporters Friday that the U.S. sought targets that would limit any involvement with Russian military forces in Syria and reduce the risk of civilian casualties.

Trump, who just a week earlier said he wanted to pull U.S. troops out of Syria “very soon,” didn’t want to become drawn into the civil war there and instead focused the military response on deterring the use of chemical weapons, according to the official.

Missile Barrage

With the allies on board and the USS Winston Churchill arriving in the Mediterranean region, the attack was nearly under way.

As the president addressed the nation at 9 p.m. Washington time, on Friday, a barrage of 105 U.S., U.K. and French missiles converged on Syria. They came from the Red Sea, the Arabian Gulf and the Mediterranean, homing in from three directions to overwhelm whatever missile defenses Assad’s regime might deploy. Russia’s more advanced air defense system didn’t engage the allied weapons.

According to the Pentagon, the allied weaponry included 19 new “Extended-Range” stealthy Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Attack Munitions launched by two B-1B bombers based out of Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, and six Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from the Virginia-class USS John Warner submarine. The bomber-launched missiles, build by Lockheed Martin Corp., had never been used in combat.

Red Sea Attack

The cruiser USS Monterey fired 30 Tomahawks and the destroyer USS Laboon fired seven Tomahawks from the Red Sea. The destroyer USS Higgins fired 23 Tomahawks from the North Arabian Gulf, according to McKenzie.

The weapons also included French SCALP-EG cruise missiles and British Storm Shadow standoff missiles launched by Tornado and Typhoon jets. Nine SCALP missiles were fired at what the Pentagon said was a chemical weapons storage complex at Hims-Shinshar, along with two SCALPS, nine Tomahawks and eight Storm Shadows.

Chemical weapons storage complex at Hims-Shinshar before the strike on April 13, left, and following the strike.satellite image ©2018 DigitalGlobe
The morning after the barrage, Trump tweeted “Mission Accomplished!”, a phrase closely associated with President George W. Bush. The 43rd U.S. president prematurely declared an end to major combat operations in Iraq in 2003 while standing on the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham, in front of a large banner bearing those words.

Trump, like Bush, may live to regret using the phrase. The latest U.S.-led operation was narrow in scope, with little damage done to Assad’s war-fighting capabilities. The country remains a toxic brew of foreign forces, militias and terrorist groups. Haley, the UN ambassador, said this week that Assad has used chemical weapons dozens of times since war broke out in 2011. He might well use them again.

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