Russia: Syria air defence intercepts 71 coalition missiles
A senior Russian military official has said that Syrian air defence had intercepted at least 71 cruise missiles fired by US, UK and France forces.
At a news conference in Moscow on Saturday, Lt. Gen. Sergey Rudskoy said at least 103 cruise missiles, including Tomahawks, were fired into a number of targets in Syria.
“Russia has fully restored the air defence system of Syria, and it continues to improve it over the last six months,” Rudskoy said.
The Russian defence ministry was quoted as saying that Syria deployed Russian-made surface-to-air missiles, including S-125, S-200, 2K12 Kub and Buk to repel the attacks.
Among those targeted by the US-led operation was the Al-Dumayr military airport outside of Damascus. Russia said all 12 missiles directed at the airport were intercepted.
In his statement, Rudskoy confirmed at least one US Navy warship in the Mediterranean, and US B-1 bombers were involved in the operation, as well as UK’s Tornado fighter.
The US-led strikes on Saturday come after a suspected chemical weapons attack by the Syrian regime in the former rebel stronghold of Douma last week.
A statement from the Pentagon said that at least 58 missiles struck Syria’s Shayrat air base. Reuters quoted a US official as saying that Tomahawk missiles were used in the strikes.
The United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force said four Tornado GR4s fighters jets joined in the operation, while France said it has deployed Mirage and Rafale fighter jets.
Earlier, the office of France’s President Emanuel Macron said the country’s air force fired missiles from its Mirage and Rafale fighter jets.
On Friday, the US Navy said it was moving additional Tomahawk missile-armed ship within striking distance of Syria.
Tomahawks can carry up to 1,000 pounds of warhead at a range of 900 nautical miles. It is guided by GPS “enabling highly accurate precision attack”, according to a 2016 Pentagon report.
A statement from the British Ministry of Defence said it has deployed at least four Royal Air Force Tornado GR4s in the strike.
The RAF Tornado fighter jets took off from the British air base in Akrotiri, Cyprus.
The Tornado fighter is capable of carrying GPS-guided bombs, Brimstone air-to-ground missiles and the 2,860 pounds Storm Shadow cruise missiles, as well as self-defence air-to-air missiles.
In April 2017, the US targeted a Syrian airbase from where it alleged a deadly chemical weapons attack was launched by the Assad regime against civilians at the town of Khan Sheikhoun. At least 85 people, including children, were killed in that attack.
Assad’s government and its ally Russia have called the allegations “fabrications”.