Connect with us

Latest

Analysis

News

Explaining Israel’s Syrian strike: Israel tries to reverse shift in military balance

All the indications are that the latest Israeli strike was primarily intended to defeat Syria’s increasingly effective air defence system, and as not principally targeted at Iran

Alexander Mercouris

Published

on

7,373 Views

Eric Zuesse has done an expert job untangling the web of lies and obfuscation surrounding the recent Israeli missile strike on Syria, and the various counter strikes.

To my mind Zuesse has shown clearly that the Israeli claim to have retaliated against an Iranian missile strike on Israel is most unlikely to be true.

What then is happening?

Firstly, it should be said clearly that the recent Israeli strike on Syria was many orders of magnitude bigger than other Israeli strikes on Syria which we have reported recently.

The most detailed account of the strike has been provided by Russia’s Defence Ministry, which makes clear its scale.

Participating in the air raid were 28 Israeli planes F-15 and F-16, which fired more than 60 air-to-surface missiles on different parts of Syria. Also Israel launched more than ten tactical surface-to-surface missiles.  The attacks were against the deployment sites of Iranian armed groups and also Syrian air defenses in the area of Damascus and in southern Syria

Note that the Israelis are not disputing the numbers of Israeli forces committed to the strike which the Russians are giving

This seems to me to be as good a point as any to highlight one very important fact which the recent US led missile strike on Syria and which this latest Israeli strike have highlighted.

Within hours of the strikes and before the US and Israel had provided details the Russians released what gives every appearance of being highly accurate information about the strikes, detailing the number of missiles launched, the number and types of aircraft used, and the other military assets which participated.

By way of example, in the case of the US led missile on Syria the Russians reported almost immediately that 103 missiles had been launched by the US led coalition against Syria.

The actual number turned out to be 105: a figure so similar to the one the Russians claimed as to make no practical difference (the discrepancy may be accounted for by the fact that two missiles malfunctioned).

The US has denied that it shared information with the Russians about the strike before it took place.

That confirms that the information the Russians gave about the strike was obtained by their own intelligence.

It is highly likely that the same is true about the information the Russians are giving about the latest Israeli strike.

The accuracy of the details the Russians provided about the US led strike confirms that the Russians have what amounts to complete knowledge in real time of what is happening in the skies and on the seas in and around Syria.

That is an extremely impressive achievement, and also a very important fact.  It confirms the technological potency of the air defence system the Russians have brought with them to Syria, and the effectiveness of the radar systems and other electronic surveillance devices it uses.

The fact that the Russians have such total knowledge of what is happening in the air and on the seas in and around Syria is a good reason for taking their claims about the number of missiles they say the Syrians have shot down seriously.

In the case of the US led missile strike the Russians initially claimed that the total number of missiles the Syrian air defence shot down was 71.  Following an on-site investigation Russian investigation that number was reduced to a still very impressive 66.

In the case of the latest Israeli strike the Russians say the Syrian air defence shot down “more than half the Israeli missiles”.

Since the Russians say 70 missiles were launched, that would mean that the Syrian air defence shot down over 35.

In both cases the US and Israel of course deny the Russian claims – the US claims all its missiles hit their targets – but have failed so far to provide a detailed refutation.

Given the completeness of Russian knowledge about what is happening in the skies and on the seas in and around Syria, it is all but inconceivable that the Russian are simply mistaken about their claims about the numbers of missiles shot down.

That means that either the Russians are lying about the number of missiles they say the Syrians have shot down or they are telling the truth.

In the case of the US led missile strike one recent US action which has passed by almost completely unnoticed suggests that the Russian may be telling the truth.

On 9th May 2018, whilst Russia was celebrating Victory Day, the US announced a further range of sanctions against Russian companies and individuals involved in producing systems for Russia’s air defence complex.

Bizarrely two Russian entities which were sanctioned were two Russian military units: the 183rd Guards Anti Aircraft Missile Regiment and the 11th Training Centre of Russia’s Anti Aircraft Missile Forces.

It is surely not a coincidence that these are the two Russian military units which have recently provided training to Syria’s air defence forces.

It is also surely not a coincidence that the reason given for sanctioning one of the Russian companies named in the sanctions appears to be that it is involved in the supply of advanced Pantsir-S1 systems to Syria.

This latest wave of US sanctions has resulted in a stiffly worded statement from the Russian Foreign Ministry which draws the obvious conclusions

Washington has imposed additional sanctions against Russia, allegedly for violating the Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Act, which has no connection to Russia. In effect, this US decision has been precipitated by a trivial desire to get even with Russia over the failed missile attack on Syria, which the United States, Britain and France launched on April 14 in violation of international law.

Evidence of this is the inclusion in the sanctions list of the Gatchina Surface-to-Air Missile Training Centre at the Mozhaisky Military Aerospace Academy and the 183rd Guards Air Defence Missile Regiment of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. In all likelihood, they are being punished for providing good training and instructions to the Syrian air defence forces, which shot down the majority of the missiles launched by the Western aggressors.

It is notable that the sanctions list also includes the Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) of the Russian General Staff and Rosoboronexport (ROE). It appears that our American colleagues have forgotten that they imposed sanctions against these parties before and are seeking to intimidate us with the same threats that have failed.

Washington continues to nurture the illusion that economic or military pressure can prevent Russia from upholding its own interests and supporting its partners. A desire to maintain its unilateral global domination despite the costs involved is prompting the United States to take irrational and openly dangerous steps. We would like to tell US politicians that trying to “punish” everyone who pursues an independent policy is not a good idea. The latest sanctions essentially amount to recognition of the combat capabilities of the Soviet and Russian weapons used by the Syrian air defence crews on April 14, when they shot down the bulk of the incoming missiles.

(bold italics added)

In my opinion it is the growing potency of the Syrian air defence system, and its increasing success in shooting down Israeli aircraft, and US and Israeli missiles, which is almost certainly the true reason for the latest Israeli strike.

The revelation of the growing potency of the Syrian air defence system, and its recent successes against both the US and Israel, appears to be sending shockwaves throughout the US and Israeli defence establishments, which have become accustomed to taking their hitherto unchallenged air superiority in the Middle East for granted.

The result is a petulant decision to impose sanctions on those Russians the US thinks are responsible for this change in the situation, and a series of ever bigger Israeli strikes on Syria intended to reverse this and to restore at least the impression of Israeli aerial primacy over Syria, which had existed before.

It seems that the latest strike – involving no fewer than 28 aircraft and launched against a far larger range of targets than the earlier US led strike – was principally intended to defeat the Syrian air defence system.

It is notable that the video from the strike which the Israelis have published, and which they have ensured has been given the most international publicity, is one which shows a successful missile strike on a Russian supplied Syrian Pantsir-S1.

It is this small but potent point defence system which appears to be shooting down a disproportionate number of US and Israeli missiles, and which is threatening to nullify the effectiveness of these missiles in Syrian air space.  Not surprisingly, its presence in Syria appears to be causing the US and Israeli defence establishments the most concern.  Release of the video appears to be intended to provide reassurance – not least to the personnel of the US and Israeli militaries – that like all weapons systems the Pantsir-S1 is not invincible and can be beaten.

As for the role of Iran in these military exchanges, in my opinion too much should not be made of this.

Iran has become Israel’s and the US’s all purpose alibi in justifying their continued attacks on Syria.

Doubtless – as the Russians say – some Iranian or Iranian controlled facilities in Syria really were attacked as part of this latest strike, presumably in order to give some substance to this alibi.

However this constant dragging in of Iran to explain or excuse Israeli attacks on Syria should not mislead about what is really going on.  It was Syria and its air defence system not Iran which appears to have been the target.

In the aftermath of the US missile strike on Syria’s Al-Shayrat air base last year the Russians said they would take steps to upgrade Syria’s air defence system.

It seems the Russians have been as good as their word, with the result that – as I have discussed previously – there has been a shift in the military balance between Syria and Israel in Syrian air space against Israel.

The Israelis are pulling out all the stops to reverse this, and this looks to be what was behind their latest big strike.

If Russian claims about the number of Israeli missiles shot down are true – and as we have seen there is reason to think they might be – then this latest Israeli strike appears to have failed.

If so then It is most unlikely to be the last one.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

avatar
  Subscribe  
Notify of

Latest

EXPLOSIVE: Michael Cohen sentencing memo exposes serial liar with nothing to offer Mueller (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 38.

Alex Christoforou

Published

on

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a quick look at the Michael Cohen sentencing memo which paints the picture of a man who was not as close to Trump as he made it out to be…a serial liar and cheat who leveraged his thin connections to the Trump organization for money and fame.

It was Cohen himself who proudly labelled himself as Trump’s “fixer”. The sentencing memo hints at the fact that even Mueller finds no value to Cohen in relation to the ongoing Trump-Russia witch hunt investigation.

Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Follow The Duran Audio Podcast on Soundcloud.

Via Axios

Special counsel Robert Mueller and federal prosecutors in New York have each submitted sentencing memos for President Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen, after Cohen pleaded guilty in two different cases related to his work for Trump and the Trump Organization.

The big picture: The Southern District of New York recommended Cohen serve a range of 51 to 63 months for four crimes — “willful tax evasion, making false statements to a financial institution, illegal campaign contributions, and making false statements to Congress.” Mueller, meanwhile, did not take a position on the length of Cohen’s statement, but said he has made substantial efforts to assist the investigation.

Southern District of New York

Mueller investigation

Michael J. Stern, a federal prosecutor with the Justice Department for 25 years in Detroit and Los Angeles noted via USA Today

In support of their request that he serve no time in prison, Cohen’s attorneys offered a series of testimonials from friends who described the private Michael Cohen as a “truly caring” man with a “huge heart” who is not only “an upstanding, honorable, salt of the earth man” but also a “selfless caretaker.”

The choirboy portrayed by Cohen’s lawyers stands in sharp opposition to Cohen’s public persona as Trump’s legal bulldog, who once threatened a reporter with: “What I’m going to do to you is going to be f—ing disgusting. Do you understand me?”

Prosecutors focused their sentencing memo on Cohen as Mr. Hyde. Not only did they detail Cohen’s illegal activities, which include millions of dollars of fraud, they also recognized the public damage that stemmed from his political crimes — describing Cohen as “a man who knowingly sought to undermine core institutions of our democracy.”

Rebuffing efforts by Cohen’s attorneys to recast him as a good guy who made a few small mistakes, prosecutors cited texts, statements of witnesses, recordings, documents and other evidence that proved Cohen got ahead by employing a “pattern of deception that permeated his professional life.” The prosecutors attributed Cohen’s crimes to “personal greed,” an effort to “increase his power and influence,” and a desire to maintain his “opulent lifestyle.”

Perhaps the most damning reveal in the U.S. Attorney’s sentencing memo is that Cohen refused to fully cooperate. That’s despite his public relations campaign to convince us that he is a new man who will cooperate with any law enforcement authority, at any time, at any place.

As a former federal prosecutor who handled hundreds of plea deals like Cohen’s, I can say it is extremely rare for any credit to be recommended when a defendant decides not to sign a full cooperation deal. The only reason for a refusal would be to hide information. The prosecutors said as much in their sentencing memo: Cohen refused “to be debriefed on other uncharged criminal conduct, if any, in his past,” and “further declined” to discuss “other areas of investigative interest.”

 

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

Latest

Canada to Pay Heavy Price for Trudeau’s Groupie Role in US Banditry Against China

Trudeau would had to have known about the impending plot to snatch Huawei CFO Wanzhou and moreover that he personally signed off on it.

Published

on

Authored by Finian Cunningham via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


You do have to wonder about the political savvy of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government. The furious fallout from China over the arrest of a senior telecoms executive is going to do severe damage to Canadian national interests.

Trudeau’s fawning over American demands is already rebounding very badly for Canada’s economy and its international image.

The Canadian arrest – on behalf of Washington – of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese telecom giant Huawei, seems a blatant case of the Americans acting politically and vindictively. If the Americans are seen to be acting like bandits, then the Canadians are their flunkies.

Wanzhou was detained on December 1 by Canadian federal police as she was boarding a commercial airliner in Vancouver. She was reportedly handcuffed and led away in a humiliating manner which has shocked the Chinese government, media and public.

The business executive has since been released on a $7.4 million bail bond, pending further legal proceedings. She is effectively being kept under house arrest in Canada with electronic ankle tagging.

To add insult to injury, it is not even clear what Wanzhou is being prosecuted for. The US authorities have claimed that she is guilty of breaching American sanctions against Iran by conducting telecoms business with Tehran. It is presumed that the Canadians arrested Wanzhou at the request of the Americans. But so far a US extradition warrant has not been filed. That could take months. In the meantime, the Chinese businesswoman will be living under curfew, her freedom denied.

Canadian legal expert Christopher Black says there is no juridical case for Wanzhou’s detention. The issue of US sanctions on Iran is irrelevant and has no grounds in international law. It is simply the Americans applying their questionable national laws on a third party. Black contends that Canada has therefore no obligation whatsoever to impose those US laws regarding Iran in its territory, especially given that Ottawa and Beijing have their own separate bilateral diplomatic relations.

In any case, what the real issue is about is the Americans using legal mechanisms to intimidate and beat up commercial rivals. For months now, Washington has made it clear that it is targeting Chinese telecoms rivals as commercial competitors in a strategic sector. US claims about China using telecoms for “spying” and “infiltrating” American national security are bogus propaganda ruses to undermine these commercial rivals through foul means.

It also seems clear from US President Donald Trump’s unsubtle comments this week to Reuters, saying he would “personally intervene” in the Meng case “if it helped trade talks with China”, that the Huawei executive is being dangled like a bargaining chip. It was a tacit admission by Trump that the Americans really don’t have a legal case against her.

Canada’s foreign minister Chrystia Freeland bounced into damage limitation mode following Trump’s thuggish comments. She said that the case should not be “politicized” and that the legal proceedings should not be tampered with. How ironic is that?

The whole affair has been politicized from the very beginning. Meng’s arrest, or as Christopher Black calls it “hostage-taking”, is driven by Washington’s agenda of harassment against China for commercial reasons, under a legal pretext purportedly about Iranian sanctions.

When Trump revealed the cynical expediency of him “helping to free Wanzhou”, then the Canadians realized they were also being exposed for the flunkies that they are for American banditry. That’s why Freeland was obliged to quickly adopt the fastidious pretense of legal probity.

Canadian premier Justin Trudeau has claimed that he wasn’t aware of the American request for Wanzhou’s detention. Trudeau is being pseudo. For such a high-profile infringement against a senior Chinese business leader, Ottawa must have been fully briefed by the Americans. Christopher Black, the legal expert, believes that Trudeau would had to have known about the impending plot to snatch Wanzhou and moreover that he personally signed off on it.

What Trudeau and his government intended to get out of performing this sordid role for American thuggery is far from clear. Maybe after being verbally mauled by Trump as “weak and dishonest” at the G7 summit earlier this year, in June, Trudeau decided it was best to roll over and be a good little puppy for the Americans in their dirty deed against China.

But already it has since emerged that Canada is going to pay a very heavy price indeed for such dubious service to Washington. Beijing has warned that it will take retaliation against both Washington and Ottawa. And it is Ottawa that is more vulnerable to severe repercussions.

This week saw two Canadian citizens, one a former diplomat, detained in China on spying charges.

Canadian business analysts are also warning that Beijing can inflict harsh economic penalties on Ottawa. An incensed Chinese public have begun boycotting Canadian exports and sensitive Canadian investments in China are now at risk from being blocked by Beijing. A proposed free trade deal that was being negotiated between Ottawa and Beijing now looks dead in the water.

And if Trudeau’s government caves in to the excruciating economic pressure brought to bear by Beijing and then abides by China’s demand to immediately release Meng Wanzhou, Ottawa will look like a pathetic, gutless lackey to Washington. Canada’s reputation of being a liberal, independent state will be shredded. Even then the Chinese are unlikely to forget Trudeau’s treachery.

With comic irony, there’s a cringemaking personal dimension to this unseemly saga.

During the 197os when Trudeau’s mother Margaret was a thirty-something socialite heading for divorce from his father, then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, she was often in the gossip media for indiscretions at nightclubs. Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards claims in his autobiography that Margaret Trudeau was a groupie for the band, having flings with Mick Jagger and Ronnie Wood. Her racy escapades and louche lifestyle brought shame to many Canadians.

Poor Margaret Trudeau later wound up divorced, disgraced, financially broke and scraping a living from scribbling tell-all books.

Justin, her eldest son, is finding out that being a groupie for Washington’s banditry is also bringing disrepute for him and his country.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

Latest

US Commits To “Indefinite” Occupation Of Syria; Controls Region The Size Of Croatia

Raqqa is beginning to look more and more like Baghdad circa 2005.

Published

on

Via Zerohedge


“We don’t want the Americans. It’s occupation” — a Syrian resident in US-controlled Raqqa told Stars and Stripes military newspaper. This as the Washington Post noted this week that “U.S. troops will now stay in Syria indefinitely, controlling a third of the country and facing peril on many fronts.”

Like the “forever war” in Afghanistan, will we be having the same discussion over the indefinite occupation of Syria stretching two decades from now? A new unusually frank assessment in Stars and Stripes bluntly lays out the basic facts concerning the White House decision to “stay the course” until the war’s close:

That decision puts U.S. troops in overall control, perhaps indefinitely, of an area comprising nearly a third of Syria, a vast expanse of mostly desert terrain roughly the size of Louisiana.

The Pentagon does not say how many troops are there. Officially, they number 503, but earlier this year an official let slip that the true number may be closer to 4,000

A prior New Yorker piece described the US-occupied area east of the Euphrates as “an area about the size of Croatia.” With no Congressional vote, no public debate, and not even so much as an official presidential address to the nation, the United States is settling in for another endless occupation of sovereign foreign soil while relying on the now very familiar post-911 AUMF fig leaf of “legality”.

Like the American public and even some Pentagon officials of late have been pointing out for years regarding Afghanistan, do US forces on the ground even know what the mission is? The mission may be undefined and remain ambiguously to “counter Iran”, yet the dangers and potential for major loss in blood and treasure loom larger than ever.

According to Stars and Stripes the dangerous cross-section of powder keg conflicts and geopolitical players means “a new war” is on the horizon:

The new mission raises new questions, about the role they will play and whether their presence will risk becoming a magnet for regional conflict and insurgency.

The area is surrounded by powers hostile both to the U.S. presence and the aspirations of the Kurds, who are governing the majority-Arab area in pursuit of a leftist ideology formulated by an imprisoned Turkish Kurdish leader. Signs that the Islamic State is starting to regroup and rumblings of discontent within the Arab community point to the threat of an insurgency.

Without the presence of U.S. troops, these dangers would almost certainly ignite a new war right away, said Ilham Ahmed, a senior official with the Self-Administration of North and East Syria, as the self-styled government of the area is called.

“They have to stay. If they leave and there isn’t a solution for Syria, it will be catastrophic,” she said.

But staying also heralds risk, and already the challenges are starting to mount.
So a US-backed local politician says the US can’t leave or there will be war, while American defense officials simultaneously recognize they are occupying the very center of an impending insurgency from hell — all of which fits the textbook definition of quagmire perfectly.

The New Yorker: “The United States has built a dozen or more bases from Manbij to Al-Hasakah, including four airfields, and American-backed forces now control all of Syria east of the Euphrates, an area about the size of Croatia.”

But in September the White House announced a realignment of its official priorities in Syria, namely to act “as a bulwark against Iran’s expanding influence.” This means the continued potential and likelihood of war with Syria, Iran, and Russia in the region is ever present, per Stripes:

Syrian government troops and Iranian proxy fighters are to the south and west. They have threatened to take the area back by force, in pursuit of President Bashar Assad’s pledge to bring all of Syria under government control.

Already signs of an Iraq-style insurgency targeting US forces in eastern Syria are beginning to emerge.

In Raqqa, the largest Syrian city at the heart of US occupation and reconstruction efforts, the Stripes report finds the following:

The anger on the streets is palpable. Some residents are openly hostile to foreign visitors, which is rare in other towns and cities freed from Islamic State control in Syria and Iraq. Even those who support the presence of the U.S. military and the SDF say they are resentful that the United States and its partners in the anti-ISIS coalition that bombed the city aren’t helping to rebuild.

And many appear not to support their new rulers.

We don’t want the Americans. It’s occupation,” said one man, a tailor, who didn’t want to give his name because he feared the consequences of speaking his mind. “I don’t know why they had to use such a huge number of weapons and destroy the city. Yes, ISIS was here, but we paid the price. They have a responsibility.”

Recent reports out of the Pentagon suggests defense officials simply want to throw more money into US efforts in Syria, which are further focused on training and supplying the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (or Kurdish/YPG-dominated SDF), which threatens confrontation with Turkey as its forces continue making preparations for a planned attack on Kurdish enclaves in Syria this week.

Meanwhile, Raqqa is beginning to look more and more like Baghdad circa 2005:

Everyone says the streets are not safe now. Recent months have seen an uptick in assassinations and kidnappings, mostly targeting members of the security forces or people who work with the local council. But some critics of the authorities have been gunned down, too, and at night there are abductions and robberies.

As America settles in for yet another endless and “indefinite” occupation of a Middle East country, perhaps all that remains is for the president to land on an aircraft carrier with “Mission Accomplished” banners flying overhead?

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

JOIN OUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL

Your donations make all the difference. Together we can expose fake news lies and deliver truth.

Amount to donate in USD$:

5 100

Validating payment information...
Waiting for PayPal...
Validating payment information...
Waiting for PayPal...
Advertisement

Advertisement

Quick Donate

The Duran
EURO
DONATE
Donate a quick 10 spot!
Advertisement
Advertisement

Advertisement

The Duran Newsletter

Trending