With the Syrian missile attacks being declared as a one-of-action by the US, the immediate threat of further escalation has receded. The catch is in the premise of the strike: it was a punitive action by France, UK and the US – FUKUS – in response to Assad government’s alleged chemical attack on Ghouta. This means that if the strike was indeed engineered by Jaish al Islam, or al Qaeda lite—as has been claimed by the Syrian and Russian governments—the promise of such a response from the US/NATO will act as an incentive for rebels to stage similar chemical attacks. A collision course between the Russian-China-Iranian and NATO has now been set, with the control of the future in the hands of the ISIS, al Qaeda and similar forces.
Russia has made clear that any future attack will have major consequences, and also has promised to arm the Syrian forces with more advanced S-300 and S-400 anti-missile batteries to stop any such strikes.
There are three questions that need to be addressed. One is whether the Russians were informed of the impending strikes and targets. Second is the number of sites targeted by the US. The third is, how many missiles were interdicted by the Syrian anti-missile batteries, and if indeed 60 per cent of missiles were shot down, how could Syrian air defence, which is of Soviet vintage, i.e. pre 1990’s, be so effective?
We will deal with the allegations of Syria’s chemical weapons use separately. For all, who follow what is happening in Syria, it is beyond belief that the Assad government, which is clearly winning the war against the US and its “rebels”, should use chemical weapons at this juncture. This is even less believable, when we see that the Ghouta rebels were on the verge of surrendering their arms in lieu of a safe passage. Why would Syrian government forces take such a step, which would not only have international repercussions, but also invite the US to intervene? That too, specifically after Trump’s statement that he wanted to withdraw all US troops from Syria.
If we go by who has benefitted from the crime of the use of chemical weapons, it is certainly the rebels; or the proxy warriors for the US and its allies. If indeed chemical weapons were really used, and the Ghouta incident is just not a video production by the White Helmets, the group funded and trained by British intelligence.
The US and its allies launched – according to the briefing given by General Kenneth McKenzie, the Director of the Joint Staff – 105 missiles. All the missiles performed as planned, and hit three targets, one in Damascus and two in Homs. All the three are supposed to be chemical weapon development or storage sites.
The Russians and Syrians have contested the claims that only three sites were attacked, and said that a number of other targets such as Damascus airport, and critical installations were also attacked, but these missiles were brought down by the Syrian air defence.
The cruise missiles were launched by three US ships, one US submarine, and aircrafts. The aircrafts used were US B-1B strategic bombers, French Rafaeles and British Tornadoes. From the routes of the missiles, and the airports from which the aircrafts took off, it is clear that Turkey, Qatar, Gulf Emirates and Jordan have cooperated with the US and its allies. Turkey, used to a number of flip flops on Syria, again executed another flop; they announced that their cooperation with the US forces in carrying out strikes was due to Syria’s use of chemical weapons.
The Joint Chief of Staff of US Armed Forces General Dunford, in his press conference with General Mathis, the US Secretary of Defence, held that the US did not “ … do any coordination with Russia on these strikes, and neither did we pre-notify them”. Answering a specific question, General Dunford said that only “the normal deconfliction of the airspace” information was shared with the Russians.
Is this simply Orwellian doublespeak, meaning that the only difference between “deconfiction information” and “sharing information regarding strikes” is the information on specific targets? The rest is the same, meaning the Russians would have known well in advance when the strikes would take place, from where they would originate and the air path that would be followed. From this, the targets – or at least the broad areas being targeted would be easy to deduce.
There is evidence that the Russians did inform the Syrians of the impending strikes five hours before they took place. The Russians and the Syrians pulled out men and materials from possible strike sites. That would explain why the only casualties in this high visibility exercise are three Syrians being wounded, and three buildings and two bunkers being demolished.
The site Sic Semper Tyrannis says:
Russia was told where we were going to strike. Russia in turn warned the Syrians. Both the Syrians and the Russians evacuated key personnel and equipment from the target sites. Any claim by the United States that we caused devastating damage or destroyed essential capabilities is total fantasy.
The Dunford and Mathis briefing also talked about how every missile hit its target. The above article continues on how many of the 105 missiles hit their targets:
The second issue concerns the imagined success of the U.S. TLAM strike. Before General Mattis (retired) approached the podium Friday night, he knew full well that a significant number of the inbound missiles had been shot down inside Syria...The Russians and Syrians were not lying when they claimed to have downed more than 70 of the U.S., UK and French missiles.
The Russians and the Syrians have said that the bulk of the missiles – more than 70 – were shot down by the anti-missiles defences of the Syrian forces. Most were shot down by missiles using 1970’s Soviet technology. For those who believe in the technical superiority of the west, which includes Indian defence “experts”, this must be an unwelcome shock.
The US has also released pictures of the strikes. Such pictures are available from satellite imagery as well. Again, defence experts seem to concur that the amount of damage – three buildings and two bunkers – do not amount to more than a 100 missiles hitting such targets.
The US has also claimed that this time, they were targetting chemical weapon production and storage sites, not the delivery systems. There are pictures of people without any protective clothing and masks looking at or wandering around such bombed “chemical weapon” sites. We give below pictures, carried by UK’s Daily Mail, of the Barzah Research Centre in Damascus, struck by missiles on Saturday morning, and photographed a few hours later.
(Both these photographs are from the Daily Mail, dated April 14)
If indeed this was a chemical weapons site, such pictures, with people going about without any protection, is unbelievable. Similar pictures are also available for the other two sites near Homs that were hit. All these indicate that Syrians are right when they say these are not functioning chemical weapons sites.
The Syrians have said that these sites were dismantled as chemical weapon manufacture or storage sites in 2013. OPCW has verified periodically that these facilities are no longer in operation. Therefore, the story that the US and its allies are presenting to the world of the Assad government still continuing its chemical weapons program has no basis. At least on the basis of any evidence that the US and its allies have been able to produce.