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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Syrian Crisis: Only 23 of 59 Tomahawks Launched At Syria’s Al-Shayrat Air Base Hit Targets

Syrian Crisis: Only 23 of 59 Tomahawks Launched At Syria’s Al-Shayrat Air Base Hit Targets
 On Friday April 7, hours after U.S. Tomahawk missiles struck Syria’s Al-Shayrat air base on President Donald J. Trump’s orders, the Russian Defense Ministry gave a presentation pointing out the ‘low combat efficiency’ of the American strikes. Coming as it did on the heels of the U.S. ‘sending a message to Assad’ over Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons Assad hasn’t had (according to U.S. and Russian jointly certified UN inspectors) since they were destroyed in 2014-15, the Russians’ message was intended as a blow to American pride. But was the relatively light damage strike compared to the hype that accompanied it intentional, as many ‘Trump is in cahoots with Putin!’ conspiracy theorists insist? Or was it a 4D chess move to fake out the warmongering legacy media and neocons, while ‘sending China and North Korea a message’ as true believers still on the Trump train contend? And then there’s a third possibility: was the ineffectiveness of the Tomahawk strike the result of Russian electro-magnetic (ECM/EW) warfare of the same type both rumored by the new media and obliquely discussed by American military commanders (mostly in the context of the Ukraine war) since the USS Donald Cook incident three years ago?
 
The only way to evaluate these claims from the outside looking in is to look at results on the ground, just as the only way to assess Trump now is through evaluating his actions, not words.


 According to Major General Igor Konashenkov, only 23 out of 59 Tomahawk TLAMs fired by two US Navy warships in the Mediterranean reached their intended target. For those keeping ‘score’, this is a rate of success abysmally lower than the much newer Russian Kalibr cruise missiles launched from the Caspian Sea at terrorist targets inside Syria (from which four allegedly crashed in Iran). The question remains: is the Ru MoD telling the truth? Because if they are, then the White House spokesman Sean Spicer is either misinformed or lying when he denies the Russian claims about the Tomahawks going astray. But if less than 50% of the Tomahawks made it to al-Shayrat, what happened to the rest of the Raytheon-manufactured missiles and why? If so many of the Tomahawks didn’t hit the target, where did they go and why is there no evidence of any Russian attempt to intercept them via the S300/400 batteries around Kheimmim and Tartus (particularly at the latter location, where the Russians have established a repair pier for their Black Sea fleet)?


The drone footage the Russian Ministry of Defense shows in their presentation uploaded to YouTube and subtitled in English below appears to have been shot after the strike. The lack of cratered runways and taxiways is consistent with footage released by Russian and Syrian journalists who made it to the base after daybreak on Friday and filmed blast damaged hangars and bomb casings — but no large craters of the concrete tarmac that would put the base out of commission for long.


The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a one man NGO run out of an apartment in Coventry, England says that Syrian forces have resumed military flights from the facility, and pro-Syrian government forces Twitter accounts confirmed SU-22 and MiG-23 tactical bombers taking off from the base this weekend. While it’s possible the Syrians recycled pre-strike footage of pilots and planes taking off from the facility in order to put up a good front, high ranking Syrian generals visiting the base after the attack claimed it had failed to achieve any lasting result.


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