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Perhaps the most surprising news surrounding the US, British and French strike on Syria Saturday morning was the report that the country’s Air Defense Force managed to shoot down just shy of 70% of the Western cruise missiles launched. Sputnik looks at how the Syrians managed to do it.
The Western attack, executed this morning at 4:00 am Syrian time on April 14, saw US Navy warships in the Red Sea and Air Force B-1B bombers and F-15 and F-16 aircraft rain dozens of ship and air-launched cruise missiles down on the Syrian capital of Damascus, an airbase outside the city, a so-called chemical weapons storage facility near Homs, and an equipment storage facility and command post, also near Homs. B1-Bs are typically armed with JASSM cruise missiles, which have a 450 kg warhead and a range of 370 km. US Navy warships launched Tomahawks, which have 450 kg warheads and an operational range of between 1,300 and 2,500 km.
The British Royal Air Force’s continent for the assault consisted of four Tornado GR4 ground attack aircraft armed with the Storm Shadow long-range air-to-surface missile, which the UK’s Defense Ministry said targeted ‘chemical weapons sites’ in Homs. These weapons have a range of 400 km.
Finally, France sent its Aquitaine frigate, armed with SCALP naval land attack cruise missiles (SCALP the French military’s name for the Storm Shadow), as well as several Dassault Rafale fighters, also typically armed with SCALP or Apache cruise missiles.
According to the Russian defense ministry, the B-1Bs also fired GBU-38 guided air bombs.
Undoubtedly weary of the prospect of having their aircraft shot down after Israel lost one of its F-16s over Syria in February, the Western powers presumably launched their weapons from well outside the range of Syrian air defenses, with all the targets located just 70-90 km of the Mediterranean Sea, and having to fly through Lebanon first.
However, notwithstanding the powerful collection of weaponry arrayed against them, the Syrian Army seems to have managed, for the most part, to blunt the attack.
Several hours after the strikes, the Russian Defense Ministry reported that the majority of the missiles launched were intercepted by Syria’s Air Defense Force, who shot downsome 71 of the 103 cruise missiles detected. This included the interception of all 12 missiles launched at the Al-Dumyar airbase northeast of Damascus. Syrian media, for its part, reported that the military had destroyed 20 missiles over Damascus alone… … …
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