An official with the alliance supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad told Reuters that the bases targeted by the U.S.-led attack were evacuated days ago thanks to a warning from Russia.
The Syrian government and its allies have absorbed a U.S.-led attack on Saturday and the targeted sites were evacuated days ago thanks to a warning from Russia, a senior official in a regional alliance that backs Damascus said.
“We had an early warning of the strike from the Russians … and all military bases were evacuated a few days ago,” the official said. Around 30 missiles were fired in the attack, and a third of them were shot down, the official said.
“We are carrying out an assessment of the material damages,” the official added.
In fact, the Pentagon acknowledged a year ago that we told the Russians ahead of time where we were going to strike, so it’s not a stretch to think that we warned them this time as well.
The key to this strike was that it targeted infrastructure, not people.
The United States hit the first target, the Barzah Research and Development Center, with 76 missiles, including 57 Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles and 19 joint air-to-surface standoff missiles.
McKenzie said the target — a military research center for chemical and biological warfare technology located in the greater Damascus area — was destroyed, citing initial assessments.
“This is going to set the Syrian chemical weapons program back for years,” he said.
The U.S. and its allies also fired 22 missiles at the Him Shinshar chemical weapons storage site — the primary location of Syria’s sarin gas — and seven missiles at the Him Shinshar chemical weapons bunker. Both locations are near Homs, roughly 100 miles north of Damascus.
The strikes were delivered from British, French and U.S. air and naval platforms in the Red Sea, the northern Arabian Gulf and the Eastern Mediterranean.
The U.S. used the USS Monterey Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser, Arleigh Burke-class destroyers the USS Laboon and USS Higgins and the USS John Warner Virginia-class submarine to fire all Tomahawk missiles.
The U.S. also used two B-1 Lancer bombers to fire 19 joint air-to-surface standoff missiles.
“All weapons hit their targets at very close to the designated time on target of about 4 a.m. in Syria,” McKenzie added. “These attacks on multiple axis were able to overwhelm the Syrian air defense system.”
The problem for the U.S. and its allies is that President Assad almost certainly has satellite sites where he stores chemical weapons. There is also the fact that we did not target any chlorine manufacturing plants, which means Assad will be free to continue to use chlorine gas as a weapon.
The mission may have been a success in military terms, in that the designated targets were destroyed and no allied lives were lost. But as far as preventing another chemical attack on civilians, it was a failure.