The Sharp Contrast Between U.S. and Russian Accounts of the Strikes on Syria
What's clear is that the Russians are presenting the target list as more extensive than the three facilities, all supposedly linked to a covert chemical weapons program Damascus maintained after surrendering its CW stocks to Washington-Moscow supervised international inspectors in 2014-15, that the governments of the U.S., Great Britain and France say were hit. The excellent Southfront video posted with a map of Syria above shows the various air bases the Russian Defense Ministry says were targeted by what Damascus is calling the 'tripartite aggression', in a deliberate invocation to the Arab world of the failed Franco-British bid to seize the Suez Canal after the Egyptian nationalist leader Nasser nationalized the strategic waterway in the 1950s. According to The Washington Post aka Pravda on the Potomac aka the Bezos/Langley Post:
The coalition hit the Barzah Research and Development Center outside Damascus with 76 missiles, destroying the facility and setting back Syrian chemical weapons capabilities “for years,” the U.S. military said in an initial assessment.
The second and third targets were part of what the U.S. military described as the Him Shinshar chemical weapons complex outside the city of Homs. The military said the strikes “completely destroyed” the complex’s chemical weapons storage facility and “successfully hit and sustained damage” to the installation’s chemical weapons bunker.
The 'Chemical Weapons Plant' That Didn't Exist: Barzah Passed OPCW Inspections as Recently as March 2018 But Was Destroyed Anyway, Syrians Say it Made Anti-Venom for Snake and Scorpion Bites
The Barzah Research and Development Center had served as a campus for scientific education, and inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) visited the site in November 2017 and again in March 2018. They found no evidence of any covert chemical weapons production at the site, which is now rubble, as this video from Ruptly shows:
Ruptly also released video showing Russian made Syrian BUK systems with missiles missing from their launch rails after the raid:
Visual Evidence that Syrian SAMs Successfully Intercepted U.S. Tomahawk Missiles
Syrian Girl aka Mimi al-Laham, a former guest on the RogueMoney radio program, tweeted amateur video of what appear to be successful intercepts by Syria's SAMs of incoming missiles in the skies over Damascus. As the Russian Analyst reported after the shoot down of an Israeli Air Force F16I and the (under-reported) damaging of an IAF F15I in February (which happened months after a 'bird strike' aka a possible near miss by SAM shrapnel struck one of the IAF's vaunted new F35 stealth jets), most of the Syrian air defense network consists of 1970s-80s Soviet vintage SAMs. Russian news agencies did report, prior to the strikes ordered by President Trump last week that Moscow had shipped 40 of the newer, shorter range Pantsir SAM/Gatling gun defense systems to Damascus. But as of Friday it was unclear how many of those (NATO designated SA22 'Greyhound') had been deployed or were operational with either trained Syrian or mixed Syrian and Russian crews, or to which bases (if any) they had been deployed beyond the Russian installations at Kheimmim and Tartus.
Nonetheless when the UK Guardian reported this weekend, "The Russian military has claimed that the Syrian air defences, whose most modern weapon is a three-decades-old Russian-supplied anti-aircraft system, shot down 71 of 103 missiles fired by the US and its allies, the UK and France, a claim denied by the Pentagon." they are not being entirely accurate. Even with Russian forces having undoubtedly linked the Syrians into their air defense network headquartered at Kheimmim and likely wired (via fiber optic cables that are much harder to cut than radio signals are to jam) Syrian SAM sites to their radars...the bulk of the SAA's air defense consists of 30 to 40 year old equipment. And yet the old systems combined with modern radars revealed their worth, when a high supersonic S200 fired as part of a larger volley in ambush downed an Israeli F16I this winter, almost killing the IAF pilot (whose back was severely injured during ejection).
So it is possible that the Pantsirs did their job as intended, notwithstanding the 'ruse' U.S. forces pulled in launching Tomahawk missiles from the Red Sea and from B1 bombers flying out of Qatar and over the Jordanian border-adjoining, illegal occupation outpost at al-Tanf. Here's how Bloomberg presented the U.S. attack, which in Trump's words was 'perfectly carried out' (except for its flagrant illegality under international law and the bogus chemical weapons manufacturing justification for it):
President Donald Trump’s outrage over another apparent chemical weapons attack by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was clear. And for the second time in his presidency, the U.S. commander-in-chief demanded retaliation.
As images of sick or dying children flooded global media all week, the U.S. guided-missile destroyer USS Winston Churchill churned toward the Mediterranean to join a flotilla of allied warships, including another U.S. destroyer, the USS Donald Cook.
It was a ruse.
While both vessels carry as many as 90 Tomahawk missiles -- the main weapon used in the Friday evening strike on Syria -- neither ship in the end fired a shot. Instead, according to a person familiar with White House war planning, they were part of a plan to distract Russia and its Syrian ally from an assault Assad’s government could do little to defend itself against.
It worked. Pentagon officials on Saturday said they faced little resistance to their targeted attack on what they said were three Syrian chemical weapons facilities. Most of the Syrian countermeasures, including defensive ballistic missiles, were fired after U.S. and allied weapons hit their targets, Lieutenant General Kenneth McKenzie told reporters on Saturday. “No Syrian weapon had any effect on anything we did,” McKenzie said. He described the joint U.S., French and U.K. strike as “precise, overwhelming and effective.”
You can parse that statement above as a lie, as true, or as a half-truth, considering Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie said no Syrian as opposed to any Russian weapon had any effect on the tripartite strike (we don't use the term 'the allies' or 'Coalition' since Washington, London and Paris received little more than verbal support from anyone else in their aggression). The Russian Analyst's personal opinion, and one shared with London Paul, is that Russia's Defense Ministry is being coy. Behind the scenes, Moscow has again sent Washington a message that it does not fear a confrontation, knowing that the Americans have more military prestige to lose, which is why they are squawking so loudly over their 'victory'. You also do not have to believe 'conspiracy theorists' like contributors to RogueMoney or Jim Stone to understand something behind the scenes went very wrong for the Pentagon this weekend; former Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) analyst and retired Army Col. Patrick Lang is also writing about the anger inside CENTCOM:
Why the discontent?
There are at least three sources--First, the United States fully coordinated and deconflicted the attack in Syria with the Russians; Second, well over 50% of the TLAMs launched by the United States, France and Britain were shot down by air defense systems in Syria; and Third, the pundits (like retired General Jack Keane) and politicians who are insisting foolishly that Russia is a second rate military power and won't hit back.
Let's start with the first issue of "coordination and deconfliction." We have been in daily contact with the Russians telling them where we are flying for almost three years. Who says so? The Associated Press...
With this background you can now appreciate how misleading and deceptive General Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was in answering the following question:
Q: I just want to clarify on the deconfliction line. You notified the Russians ahead of time before the operation began what you were going to do and what targets you were going to strike?
GEN. DUNFORD: Gordon, to be clear, the only — the only communications that took place specifically associated with this operation before the targets were struck was the normal deconfliction of the airspace, the procedures that are in place for all of our operations in Syria.
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 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. That is why Mattis closed his press conference with the following comment:
Based on recent experience, we fully expect a significant disinformation campaign over the coming days by those who have aligned themselves with the Assad regime.
Give the old boy [Mattis] his due. He was inoculating the ridiculous operation against legitimate criticism by simply being able to point out that any information contrary to what the Pentagon said was "propaganda." Of course, the enlisted and officers that staff the CAOC know differently. The Russians and Syrians were not lying when they claimed to have downed more than 70 of the U.S., UK and French missiles.
I understand the reluctance of the U.S. military leaders to admit the truth about this debacle. It would undermine the confidence of the American people is our supposedly invincible weapon systems and would embarrass and enrage the man child that inhabits the White House. Better to tell him lies and let him believe the fantasy. But this is a very dangerous game. So far the Russians have not pursued significant PR efforts to expose the U.S. lie about the missiles. Maybe they are choosing to keep quiet, like a good poker player, and not tip their hand to the American public. One of these days Trump and company will over bet in trusting the Russians not to punch back (and punch back hard) and the American people will be in for a rude awakening. They will discover that the Russians have a decided advantage over us when it comes to air defense.
A friend of mine who has expertise in these matters wrote me:
Any air defense engineer with a security clearance that isn't lying through his teeth will admit that Russia's air defense technology surpassed us in the [late] 1950s [when the S200 was conceived in the Soviet Union to shoot down the then planned Mach 3 capable bombers like the Convair B58 'Hustler' -- JWS] and we've never been able to catch up. The systems they have in place surrounding Moscow make our Patriot PAC3's [which are currently failing to shoot down Houthi SCUD knockoffs fired at Riyadh -- JWS] look like f---ng nerf guns.
Finally there is the matter of the Russians as a second rate military masquerading as a world power. Another friend who has spoken with military commanders in the CENTCOM AOR told me:
All of the knowledgeable aircraft commanders are usually scared shitless about the prospect of a legitimate air-to-air skirmish with a SU-30 or any Russian air superiority fighter.
But that is not what blowhards, like retired General Jack Keane, believe:
Gen. Jack Keane (Ret.) expressed skepticism over Russia's threat to shoot down U.S. aircraft in Syria.
Russia's defense ministry said planes flying in Syria, west of the Euphrates River, would be considered targets after the U.S. Navy shot down a Syrian warplane.
The Syrian SU-22 had just attacked U.S. partner forces battling ISIS and was shot down by a U.S. F-18 Super Hornet.
Keane said on "Fox & Friends" he sees the statement from the Kremlin as more "talk" and "bluster" by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"That's rubbish. They're not gonna shoot at U.S. airplanes. They're not gonna take on the United States. They have very limited capability in Syria by comparison to U.S. capability," said Keane, a Fox News military analyst.
General Keane is confusing restraint with weakness and incompetence. That is a dangerous and potentially deadly error to make. Russia, unlike the United States, has a very clear, precise strategy in mind with respect to Syria--defeat the rebels (Islamic and otherwise) and preserve Syria as a political entity. They have been willing to roll with some of our punches because they do not want to disrupt the progress they have made.
We are reaching a point now, however, where such restraint cannot and should not be taken for granted. Our intelligence analysts know full well the type of military capabilities the Russians have put in place in Syria. One can only hope that their briefings are not dismissed as "propaganda" because it does not adhere to the party line being pushed by a delusional Donald Trump.
Did the Russian 'Off Switch' Electronic Warfare System Blanket Over Syria Smother Most of the Downed Missiles?
Col. Pat Lang (USA ret) is correct, that several of the easily detected and not necessarily ground-hugging Tomahawks were likely shot down by Syria's BUK and older model SAMs. According to pro-Syrian Twitter accounts the missiles were detected inbound dozens of miles out at altitudes of several hundred meters. Possibly the TV and radio towers as well as larger hills around Damascus precluded the Tomahawks from being programmed to fly in at near-rooftop heights to evade radar (though sonic and infrared sensors placed by the Russians would potentially be able to estimate incoming missiles trajectories, even without a solid radar lock). But the most likely cause for a reported investigation underway inside the Pentagon, notwithstanding the bravado of its spokesmen and women, has been the latest use of 'the Russian off switch'. To which the deployment to the eastern Mediterranean of the USS Donald Cook, previously said to have been temporarily disabled by Russian Khibiny jammers in April 2014, was undoubtedly a form of 'bait', 'Here Russians is your favorite target, try to buzz it again with your plane or shore based jammers the way you did before, the way we insist never happened.'
What's indisputable is that swarms of U.S. and NATO AWACS and electronic surveillance planes, plus high altitude drones, were flying eight tracks just outside Syrian air space over Turkey and miles off Syria's coast in the Med. The NATO aerial surveillance fleet, combined with antennae on ships and land-based NSA listening posts inside Incirlik and other regional U.S. bases, were all set to record emissions if Moscow switched on its powerful non-kinetic weaponry during the 'perfectly carried out' raid:
Since April 14, SouthFront has been receiving indications that the US military leadership is concered over the results of its military action.
Informed sources close to the Pentagon say that the US military is about to launch an internal probe in order to get a true picture of the situation, a real number of missiles, which had hit their targets, the reasons behind a minor damage delivered by the strike and the explanations how the Syrian Air Defense Forces had been able to intercept a part of the missiles using their old-fashioned air defense systems.
The Pentagon’s statement that all the 105 missiles hit their targets raises eyebrows because videos showing at least a few missile interceptions are available online.
It’s also hard to expect [sic believe that] the Russian Defense Ministry, which is under a constant media pressure from the Western MSM, may have made a stunning statement about the 71 missile interceptions without an obtained confirmation. [For example, tracking data from Syrian and Russian radar systems].
On April 14, SouthFront noted questionable results of the US-UK-French missile strike on Syria, pointing out that the 71 interceptions could be a result of the employment of Russian state-of-the-art electronic warfare (EW) systems.
On April 15, former head of the Armaments Department of the Russian Defense Ministry Colonel General Anatoliy Sitnov supported this EW warfare impact version in own remarsk to the Russian TV channel Tsargrad.
The Information War Over the U.S. Strikes and Role of Disinformation
As the Russian Analyst, Deb @BanksterSlayer Caruthers and London Paul have documented, Moscow possesses an electronic warfare capability decades ahead of what NATO can currently field. In the opinion of London Paul, this technology is generations ahead of what the U.S. has, and there are no signs the Americans, even with their most exotic stuff hidden away at Area 51, are closing the gap. Of course, critics will reply here that the Russians have yet to produce multiple junked Tomahawks. A slew of NATO propagandists, some of them tied to the Atlantic Council or the USAID [known CIA front] and Google [NSA/National Geospatial Intelligence Agency-NGA/general Deep State] linked open source shop known as Bellingcat, are claiming that every image shown online of supposedly downed Tomahawks is fake.
However, the tactic of flooding the web with fakes so that pro-Russian media outlets will get confused or cite the fakes has been well established in Cold War 2 information warfare, particularly in the aftermath of the MH17 false flag operation. There are various images of Syrian soldiers or children playing on top of pieces that may be from old Soviet designed rockets, but the Russian Defense Ministry is sending out teams to collect pieces from the sites. We are likely to see more examples of vaunted U.S./UK/French hardware blown to bits by old Soviet model SAMs later this week. But even before an exposition of evidence from the Russian Defense Ministry that their American counterparts are lying, severe damage has been done to Washington, London and Paris reputations. The latter two already tarnished by the Sergey and Yulia Skripal case, in which London's 'evidence' consists of a 'dossier' supposedly showing Russian intelligence stalked the father and daughter for years after Sergey's release to the United Kingdom in a 2010 spy swap.
Moscow Accuses the British of Creating Chemical False Flags from Salisbury to Douma, Justifying Their Punitive Operation Against Assad with 'Social Media'
In response, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has declared that the evidence withheld by the UK and OPCW from the public includes traces of BZ, a toxin that disorients and stuns but doesn't necessarily kill its victims. A compound Lavrov says is only manufactured in NATO countries, not in Russia. Moscow has been blamed for allegedly smearing novichok nerve agent on the door of the Skripals, and on that basis, hundreds of Russian diplomats have been expelled from multiple NATO member states, above all the U.S. following the closure of the Seattle consulate. Moscow retaliated by closing the U.S. consulate in St. Petersburg and accusing the British of using the false flag poisoning of the Skripals as a prelude to the bigger chemical false flag staged by their White Helmets G-NGO proxies in Douma. We could write further about the absurdities of the Skripal case, or a Washington Post article that brazenly admits President Trump was not presented with particularly good evidence of Russia's guilt, only berated into going along with a close ally for fear that he'd be attacked as soft on Putin (the same RussiaGate albatross planted on his back to goad the President into acting against his gut instincts in Syria, where Amb Nikki Haley and even the French now boast that American troops will stay indefinitely, contradicting Trump's call just two weeks ago for a pullout). But we think it best to wind up this piece and leave it to our friends Harley Schlanger and London Paul to further expose the Anglo-maniac trans-Atlantic deep state's perfidy, from Salisbury to Syria.
In conclusion, not for the first time, but for the first time directly targeting the Syrian capital, the leading (post)western powers have attacked a sovereign nation that did them no harm. They have struck civilian facilities for which they have presented no proof of and which the OPCW inspectors whose work they've certified found no traces of, chemical weapons storage or manufacturing. Not only have they arrogated to themselves the right to speak for 'the West' and act in the roles of judge, jury and executioner in enforcing the norms of the 'civilized world', but they have ordered punishments before any physical evidence of the alleged war crime had been presented, and before a single OPCW inspector had set foot in newly liberated Douma.
Faced with such absurdities and ever increasing sanctions, the Russians do not have a difficult job in denouncing the Americans and their Anglo-French poodles hubris to the UN and the world. The hard part is piercing the propaganda bubble that now surrounds Washington, convincing the Americans to climb down from the ledge they've jumped up to, and coping with an Administration full of Nikki Haleys and John Boltons hellbent on dragging the Commander in Chief into a confrontation he doesn't want but seems too blackmailed or manipulated to avoid. Making any progress in that direction will certainly requiring sobering up the American military, who may or may not get the delusional civilians and retired old Cold Warrior generals to listen.