stars and stripes
Trump's strike on Syria disrupts the narrative that he is Putin's pal
By CALLUM BORCHERS | The Washington Post | Published: April 7, 2017
President Donald Trump raised the ire of his counterpart in Moscow by striking a Syrian air base Thursday, and in doing so disrupted the media narrative that he is too cozy with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Coverage of Trump's military action has noted that the launch of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles - aimed at the airfield from which Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces are believed to have deployed a chemical-weapon attack on civilians this week - puts the United States at odds with Russia, which has supported the Assad regime. A few excerpts from the coverage:
- Putin denounced the U.S. action as "aggression against a sovereign state in violation of the norms of international law under a far-fetched pretext." He said the strikes "dealt a serious blow to Russian-U.S. relations" and that their aim was to distract from the civilian deaths from coalition airstrikes in Iraq, a statement from his press office said. (CNN)
Russian President Vladimir Putin listens during a meeting in Moscow, Russia on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017.
MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/SPUTNIK, KREMLIN POOL PHOTO VIA AP
- Mr. Putin considered the attack a breach of international law that had been made under a false pretext, Peskov said. Moscow also called on the United Nations Security Council to convene an emergency meeting, and the Russian Foreign Ministry said it was freezing an agreement with the United States to coordinate air operations over Syria. (New York Times)
- Trump's decision to strike Syrian government forces is a particularly notable shift for a leader who in the past had repeatedly said he wanted better relations with Moscow, including to cooperate with Russia to fight Islamic State. ... Russian media long portrayed Trump as a figure who would promote closer relations with Moscow. At home, Trump's opponents have accused him of being too supportive of Putin. (Reuters)
After his inauguration, Trump did little to inspire confidence that he could stand up to Putin when he defended the Russian leader in a high-profile interview on Super Bowl Sunday. Interviewer Bill O'Reilly of Fox News remarked to Trump that "Putin is a killer," referring to suspicions that the Kremlin has been behind the deaths of journalists and political dissidents.
Why the Navy's Tomahawk missiles were the weapon of choice in strikes in Syria
By DAN LAMOTHE | The Washington Post | Published: April 6, 2017
The U.S. Navy launched more than 50 Tomahawk missiles early Friday at military targets in Syria in response to a chemical-weapons attack this week on civilians, relying on a mainstay weapon when the Pentagon wants to attack from a safe distance.
The missile has been a critical part of U.S. warfare since the Persian Gulf War in 1991 and commonly carries a 1,000-pound warhead. It was last used by the Pentagon in October, when the military launched Tomahawks from the Red Sea at three coastal radar sites in Yemen after Houthi rebels there fired missiles at several U.S. ships over several days.
Before that, the United States used them in September 2014 as the country expanded its air war against militants from Iraq into Syria. The Pentagon said at the time that it launched 47 Tomahawks from two ships - the USS Philippine Sea in the Persian Gulf and the USS Arleigh Burke in the Red Sea - and hit sites used by what it called the Khorasan Group, an Islamist cell said to be linked to al-Qaida.
The strikes, announced late Thursday in Washington, were launched from two Navy ships in the Mediterranean Sea, a defense official said on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the operation.
Pentagon: US took care not to harm Russian aircraft at Syrian base
DEBKAfile April 7, 2017, 9:42 AM (IDT)
Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said Friday that the Tomahawks attacked “aircraft, hardened aircraft shelters, petroleum and logistical storage, ammunition supply bunkers, air defense systems, and radars” at Shayrat airfield. “The places we targeted were the things that made the airfield operate. It’s the petroleum facilities, it’s the aircraft radar, what they use for take-off and landing, as well as air-defense radar, as well as the aircraft.” Davis said. ”
Davis emphasized the precautions the US military took to avoid killing Russian personnel occupying their own compound at Shayrat, citing the early-morning time of the attack and the choice of targets unlikely to have people inside. All the aircraft attacked were Syrian, Davis said, with Russian aircraft unharmed.
DEBKAfile: No attempt was made to send the advanced Russian missiles posted on the Syrian Mediterranean coast to intercept the Tomahawk missiles heading for the Syrian air field. Military experts have often advised against attacking Assad because of their presence.
Russia is given advance warning of US attack on Syria airfield
DEBKAfile April 7, 2017, 7:28 AM (IDT)
Pentagon sources report that Washington gave Moscow advance warning of the coming US cruise missile attack Thursday night on the Syrian Shayrat airfield, where Russian air force units are also based. The attack was in retaliation for the Syrian sarin nerve gas attack that killed up to 100 civilians in the Idlib town of Khan Sheikhoun Monday.
First Images Of Aftermath Of "Inefficient" US Missile Strikes Emerge
Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said "the combat efficiency of the US strike was very low", adding that only 23 of the 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles reached the Shayrat air base in the province of Homs and as the following images suggest, they were not as damaging as some may have hoped...
Ракетный удар по авиабазе Шайрат. Эксклюзивные кадры с места событий
Only 23 out of 59 US missiles hit target, damage is "laughable" - Syrian officer
A military source from the Syrian Arab Republic has disclosed the details of the consequences of the US’ missile strike on Syria’s Sharat airfield:
"The Shayrat airfield has for six months already been used by the Syrian Army as a ‘dump’ where the Syrian Arab Republic’s armed forces' old and already decommissioned military equipment waits before being sent to scrap or dismantling for old parts.
As a result of the US missile strike, six MIG-23’s were destroyed which were being repaired and one An-26 transport plane being recycled which, according to the technical staff of the base, already had its wings and power setup dismantled by the time of the attack.
In addition to equipment of Soviet production, as a result of the strike several light-duty transport aircraft of foreign production were destroyed," the Syrian military source concluded.
According to the airfield’s servicemen, two tankers, several trucks, cars, and tractors were also destroyed.
According to experts, the total damage of the missile strike was no more than 3-5 million US dollars. At the same time, by using not so tricky math, it is clear that for recycling such old Syrian equipment the US Army lost around 90 million US dollars.
As follows from objective monitoring information, out of the 59 missiles launched, only every fourth reached its target. Only 23 to 26 missiles fell in the vicinity of the Shayrat airfield itself.
It is unlikely that these results will please American taxpayers. Despite the beautiful pictures in the media, from a military standpoint and in the context of damage to the Syrian army’s military infrastructure, the result of this strike is, at best, laughable.
From an economic standpoint, in terms of corresponding losses and the damage struck, the American side has a fiasco on its hands.
Despite the uselessness of the US strike, from a practical military point of view and from the point of view of the damage done to the Syrian army by the strike, nevertheless someone gets something out of this. This attack was immediately taken advantage of by ISIS terrorists, who immediately after the bombing went on the offensive on government troop positions in the Homs province.
This fact and the incident in September 2016 in Deir ez-Zor (when coalition aircraft bombed Syrian armed forces, after which an ISIS offensive on the city began) speak to the fact that the US is not so much fighting with terrorists in Syria as it is providing them direct military support in fighting against the Syrian army.