Syria Attack April 2018 – An Overview

IRIA Exclusive – April 14, 2018

US, UK and France launch Syria strikes targeting Assad's chemical weapons

Key Points:
- Allied air forces and navies launched 105 TLAM, JASSM-ER, MdCN, Storm Shadow, and Scalp missiles on Syria
- Syrian and Russian forces claim to intercept 71 missiles but Pentagon said none of the 105 missiles were interrupted
- US says it hit three targets related to chemical weapons program in Syria

In the early hours of Saturday morning (April 14), the United States, United Kingdom and France launched air and naval strikes against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. The strikes targeted three facilities related to Syria’s “chemical weapons infrastructure,” following the alleged chemical weapons attack on civilians in the Damascus enclave of Douma.

“I ordered the United States armed forces to launch precision strikes on targets associated with the chemical weapon capabilities of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad,” US President Donald Trump said late Friday at the White House.

US provided the bulk of the weapons with 85 missiles in total while France fired 12 and Britain eight.

The 66 Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from aboard three U.S. Navy ships and one Navy submarine. The Pentagon has said US-led strikes on Syria successfully hit designated targets, dealing a “severe blow” to President Bashar al-Assad’s alleged chemical weapons program.

French officials said its military had fired at least 12 missiles into Syria, three from a frigate and nine from aircraft, and that they believe none of their missiles were intercepted.

Britain launched eight Storm Shadow cruise missiles from the sky as the US and France provided support from the sea and jets. France deployed Mirage and Rafale fighter jets while United Kingdom's Royal Air Force said four Tornado GR4s fighter jets joined the operation.

Lieutenant-General Kenneth F. McKenzie, the director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon, said the strikes by US and its allies were “precise, overwhelming and effective”, and “successfully hit every target.”

Missiles used in the attack
• Tomahawk Land Attack Cruise Missiles (TLAM)
• Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile – Extended Range (JASSM-ER)
• MdCN (Missile de Croisiere Naval – naval cruise missile)
• Storm Shadow missiles.

Breakdown of 105 missiles launched by US and allies
According to Pentagon, the US and allies used following military weapons in strike against Syria:

From the North Arabian Gulf:
USS Higgins (Arleigh Burke-class destroyer) - 23 Tomahawk missiles

From the Red Sea:
USS Monterey (Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser) - 30 Tomahawk missiles
USS Laboon (Arleigh Burke-class destroyer) - 7 Tomahawk missiles

From the Eastern Mediterranean:
USS John Warner (Virginia class submarine) - 6 Tomahawk missiles
A French frigate ship - 3 missiles (naval version of SCALP missiles)

From the Air:
2 B-1 Lancer bombers - 19 joint air to surface standoff missiles
8 storm shadow missiles - British flew a combination of Tornado and Typhoon jets
9 SCALP missiles -French flew a combination of Rafales and Mirages

Which three areas were targeted?
The three bases targeted and reportedly destroyed were located in greater Damascus and Homs.

1. The Barzah Research and Development Center, which US called the “heart” of the chemical weapons program located in “one of the most heavily defended” areas in the world, near Damascus was targeted by American forces with 57 Tomahawk missiles launched by sea and 19 JASSM-ER weapons launched from a pair of B-1 bombers.

2. The Him Shinshar Chemical Weapons facility, located west of Homs, was hit by all three forces. U.S. launched nine Tomahawks, the British launched eight Storm Shadow air-launched weapons and the French launched three naval cruise missiles and two SCALP air launched weapons.

3. The Him Shinshar Chemical Weapons bunker, about 7 kilometers from Him Shinshar was struck only by the French, with seven SCALP missiles fired by Rafale fighter, accompanied by Mirage fighters for protection.

Pentagon claimed that Syrian regime retaliated with 40 defensive missiles in a futile attempt to save the three Syrian chemical weapons sites.

Syria and Russia Reaction
The Syrian Armed Forces claimed that country’s defense systems “intercepted most of the missiles, but some hit targets including the Research Center in Barzeh.”

The Russian military has claimed that the Syria’s most modern weapons which are at least three-decades-old Russian-supplied anti-aircraft system have shot down 71 out of 103 missiles fired by US and allies. Syria reportedly deployed Russian-made surface-to-air missiles, including S-125, S-200, 2K12 Kub and Buk to repel the attacks.

Syria's envoy to the UN, Bashar Jaafari, said the US, UK and France were "liars, spoilers and hypocrites" who exploited the UN "to pursue... [their] policy of interference and colonialism".

Syrian air defense forces reportedly claimed to have intercepted missiles at following airfields:
• Duwali airfield 4 missiles fired - all intercepted
• Dumair airfield 12 missiles - all intercepted
• Blay airfield, 12 missiles - all intercepted
• Shayrat airfield, 12 missiles - all intercepted
• Unused Mezze airfield, 9 missiles - 5 intercepted
• Homs airfield, 16 missiles - 13 intercepted
• 30 missiles fired at region Barzeh and Jaramanie - 7 intercepted

No causalities reported
Russian defense ministry statement said there had been no casualties among the Syrian army or civilians. US Secretary of Defense James Mattis said there were no reports of US losses in the operation.

Pentagon statement after the strikes
- The attacks were a response to the Assad regime’s “illegal tactics” in continuing to use chemical weapons and reflected a moral imperative to intervene.

- U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenant General Kenneth McKenzie said the Syrians had been unable to have any “material interference” in the operation and all the missiles reached their targets.

- All of the 105 weapons that hit their targets around 4 AM local time were described as “precise, overwhelming, effective.”

- The operation “significantly crippled” Syria’s chemical weapons capabilities and despite reports of evacuations of some production equipment and other materiel, some fixtures were likely too large to move to another, safe location.

- At least 76 missiles struck the Barzah Research Center in Damascus, including 57 Tomahawk and 19 JASSM-ER missiles.

- Pentagon has called on Russia to ensure Assad never uses chemical weapons again.

US President Donald Trump has warned Assad's regime that the United States is "locked and loaded" to strike Syria again if it carries out chemical attacks in the future.