(London, UK – 5:21 P.M.) At President Trump’s request, the U.S. military attacked an airbase used by the Syrian Arab Air Force (SYAAF) in Homs province towards the beginning of April. According to official reports, the U.S. launched tomahawk cruise missiles at the Shayrat base.
Despite this, the airbase was operational just a few hours after the attack, with Sukhoi Su-22 bombers taking off and landing at the facility, to carry out airstrikes against ISIS terrorists.
Around one week after the incident, President Trump told Fox News “We are not going into Syria,” while adding that the Obama administration should have taken action to alleviate the situation in Syria.
Trump ordered the attack against the Syrian military without direct proof that the Syrian government was behind the recent chemical attack in Idlib. On the contrary, it seems more likely that the militants carried out the attack to trigger foreign military intervention, or the Syrian Arab Air Force (SYAAF) may have accidentally targeted chemical labs used by militants in the area.
It has now been confirmed that the U.S. fired exactly 59 tomahawk cruise missiles at its target. Via Twitter, President Trump recently indicated that none of missiles were supposed to target the airbase’s runways.
The reason you don't generally hit runways is that they are easy and inexpensive to quickly fix (fill in and top)!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 8, 2017
Pictures are circulating on social media, purporting to show debris from the tomahawk missiles scattered in Tartus province, hundreds of kilometres away from the targeted base. There were some reports of the missiles landing off the Syrian coast. For such an operation, it is standard protocol for an older-batch of missiles to be used for an attack which is more about sending a message, than significantly degrading the military capabilities of Assad’s forces.
This potentially explains why the airbase maintained much of its functionality, and was still fit for purpose. It has also been reported that some of the missiles were shot down by Russian or Syrian air defences. It seems that the U.S. deliberately fired a large number of missiles to overwhelm these air defences.
Editor-in-Chief of National Defence magazine, Igor Korotchenko, explained why Syrian air defences couldn’t destroy all of the incoming missiles.
“In the first place, the Syrians have island-like air defences. This means that the units and weaponry systems them have cover separate facilities. They don’t have an integrated air defence net and I don’t rule out there were no air defences around that base at all,” Igor told the Tass News Agency.
“Secondly, apart from Pantsyr (a surface-to-air and antitank missile system TASS) all other systems are outdated because they were manufactured back during the Soviet era and they stand in need of upgrading. That’s why the Syrians couldn’t rebuff the strike meaningfully,” he explained.