US Strike On Syria: What We Know

Shayrat Airfield in Syria Statement from Pentagon Spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis on U.S. strike in Syria At the direction of the president, U.S. forces conducted a cruise missile strike against a Syrian Air Force airfield today at about 8:40 p.m. EDT (4:40 a.m., April 7, in Syria). The strike targeted Shayrat Airfield in Homs governorate, and were in response to the Syrian government's chemical weapons attack April 4 in Khan Sheikhoun, which killed and injured hundreds of innocent Syrian people, including women and children. The strike was conducted using Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAMs) launched from the destroyers USS Porter and USS Ross in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. A total of 59 TLAMs targeted aircraft, hardened aircraft shelters, petroleum and logistical storage, ammunition supply bunkers, air defense systems, and radars. As always, the U.S. took extraordinary measures to avoid civilian casualties and to comply with the Law of Armed Conflict. Every precaution was taken to execute this strike with minimal risk to personnel at the airfield. The strike was a proportional response to Assad's heinous act. Shayrat Airfield was used to store chemical weapons and Syrian air forces. The U.S. intelligence community assesses that aircraft from Shayrat conducted the chemical weapons attack on April 4. The strike was intended to deter the regime from using chemical weapons again. Russian forces were notified in advance of the strike using the established deconfliction line. U.S. military planners took precautions to minimize risk to Russian or Syrian personnel located at the airfield. We are assessing the results of the strike. Initial indications are that this strike has severely damaged or destroyed Syrian aircraft and support infrastructure and equipment at Shayrat Airfield, reducing the Syrian Government's ability to deliver chemical weapons. The use of chemical weapons against innocent people will not be tolerated.

US Strike On Syria: What We Know. President Trump ordered a limited strike on Assad’s forces stationed at the Shayrat Airfield that was related to the chemical attack that had killed civilians. The attack consisted of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer’s USS Ross and USS Porter stationed in the Eastern Med.

Contrary to earlier reports Russia and their troops stationed at the Shayrat Airfield were given prior warning to the strike. It’s been stated by the White House that the strike was targeting air defense stations,  jets,  hardened structures, and the airstrip its self but was not intended to inflict large casualties.

Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said in an official statement: “Russian forces were notified in advance of the strike using the established deconfliction line. U.S. military planners took precautions to minimize risk to Russian or Syrian personnel located at the airfield.”

The Syrian government has said 5 casualties have been reported from the base in Homs. A twitter account associated with the regime has claimed Syrian Brigadier General Khalil Issa Ibrahim, commander of the second battalion of the 136th Air Defense Brigade of the Syrian Army has been killed in the first volley of Tomahawks as AA stations were first to be hit.

The strike was intended to remind Assad, North Korea, Russia, and China that the U.S. and by extension President Trump is willing to backup policy with force.  The strike occurred during dinner between Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping, reaffirming to China the President’s has no qualms to back up his words.

So far the Russian response has been limited with denouncing the strike and calling for a U.N. meeting. The Russians used the base to forward deploy attack helicopters and had heavily retrofitted and invested in the base.

The U.S. has stated that this was purely a U.S. operation and did not ask any allies for support though the U.K., Austrlia, Saudi Arabia, and Isreal have all announced support for the strike. NATO was informed before the operation.

Opinion

While the amount of Tomahawks fired would have likely overwhelmed any AA system in Syria I personally think the Russians chose not to engage the missiles. Who also knows how much time the Russians were given to chose a reaction. May have been little as 30 minutes to force a quick decision by Putin to abandon AA stations.

So far the reactions by the Russians have been mild but they expectedly have condemned the attack. The Syrians have done the same. The U.S. currently has hundred of troops in Syria fighting and they could be subjected to a retaliatory attack. Though I doubt Assad would counter strike them as the U.S. would surely respond with overwhelming force.

It’s an interesting world we live in.