In a scenario similar to last year’s attack on the Syrian airbase, Russia did not even attempt to prevent NATO’s predictable cruise missile strike on Syria. According to the Russian MoD, “Russia did not deploy its air defense systems located in Syria to intercept the American, British, and French missiles. None of the missiles launched by the US and its allies reached the Russian air defense zones that shield facilities in the port city of Tartus and Khmeimim Air Base”.
Instead, Russian media has claimed that Syria’s own air defense systems intercepted many of the incoming missiles using cold war era technology like the S-125, S-200, Buk and Kvadrat systems. This highly questionable claim remains to be validated by independent battle damage assessment footage that should become availabe later on.
The bombing targeted the Mezza military airport outside Damascus, and the Jamarya “research center” [struck by Israel several times in the recent years], and two “chemical sites” near Homs. The strikes also hit Syrian and Hezbollah military sites near the Al Dumeir air base, 40km west of Damascus in the Qalamoun Mountains, where the two armies have built underground installations.
The strikes were evidently the first wave of the joint operation in Syria. Washington, London and Paris may now await Russian and Iranian responses before deciding on how to proceed next. Russian media suggests the attacks were taken as a personal insult to President Putin, and therefore will “have consequences”.
Unconfirmed reports suggest the strikes were also used as cover for various NATO sponsored insurgency groups to launch multiple ground offensives against the Syria regime, although this remains to be seen. Last years’ airstrike had no impact whatsoever on the survival of Assad’s regime, who only made major territorial gains ever since, and the recent attack isn’t likely to get different results, especially since it was carried out after NATO willingly gave up the element of surprise by notifying the target list in advance and then delaying the strike for several days.
Similarly, none of Israel’s “over 100 airstrikes in Syria” in the recent years had a strategic impact, as they were merely tactical strikes on Iranian linked facilities meant to prevent the deployment of “game changing weapons” and contain the situation within “tolerable parameters”. It therefore remains to be seen what the following phase of the Syrian war is about to look like.