Successful Strikes and Targets Hit in Syria
(Source: French Armed Forces Ministry; issued April 14, 2018)
(Issued in French; unofficial translation by Defense-Arospace.com)
A French Air Force Rafale single-seater takes off on April 13 to strike Syrian targets, carrying two SCALP-EG cruise missiles on the outboard wing stations and three fuel tanks on the inboard and centerline pylons. (FR MoD photo)
PARIS --- Following the intervention of the French armed forces in response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria, Mrs. Florence Parly, Minister of the Armed Forces, and General François Lecointre, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, held a joint press conference on Saturday, April 14, 2018.
"The mission is a success. Its military objectives were achieved and Syria's ability to design, produce and stockpile chemical weapons has been greatly diminished," said Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly, confirming that "all our missiles have reached their targets."
She said that the mission focused exclusively on targets related to chemical capabilities, “which were chosen very carefully, in close coordination with our allies, to minimize the risk of collateral casualties" and "with the constant concern of avoiding any kind of escalation.”
All five Rafales return to their base in France on Saturday morning after striking targets in Syria. One (a/c n° 3 from left) and possibly two (a/c n°5) are single-seaters, and none is bringing back the missing Scalp missile. (FR MoD video)
The minister paid tribute to the work done by the military on this particularly complex mission.
General Lecointre, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, addressed military aspects and operational performance.
The raid, on the night of April 13 to 14, 2018 was conducted by the Air Force aircraft flying from bases in France, with 5 in-flight refuelings -- 3 outbound and 2 on the return leg – and 10 consecutive hours of flight under combat conditions.
This mission was carried out by 17 French Air Force aircraft: 5 Rafale and 4 Mirage 2000-5 fighter aircraft, two [E-3F] AWACS and 6 [C-135F] tanker aircraft.
The French Navy deployed 3 [FREMM] multi-mission frigates, one anti-submarine frigate and one anti-air frigate, and fired 3 [Missile de Croisière Naval, MdCN] naval cruise missiles, marking the first operational use of this type of missile since its service introduction.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: The five Rafale each carried two Scalp-EG cruise missiles (known as Storm Shadow in the UK), and footage of their return released by the Armed Forces Ministry shows that one, and possibly two, were single-seaters.
None returned carrying a missile.
As all official sources agree that only 9 Scalps hit their target, the tenth either missed its target or aborted its mission after launch.)
RAF Jets Strike Chemical Weapon Facility in Syria: British forces joined close Allies in a precision strike on Syrian installations
(Source: UK Ministry of Defence; issued April 14, 2018)
At 0200 UK time on 14 April, British forces joined close Allies in a precision strike on Syrian installations involved in the regime’s use of chemical weapons against its own people. The strike was launched as a response to the chemical weapon attack on 7 April in Douma which killed up to 75 people, including young children; a significant body of information, including intelligence, indicates that the Syrian regime was responsible for this latest attack.
As the Prime Minister has made clear, this pattern of behaviour must be stopped, not just to protect innocent people in Syria from these horrific weapons, but also because the erosion cannot be allowed of the international norms that prevent the use of chemical weapons.
Our action is proportionate, specifically aimed at degrading the regime’s ability to use chemical weapons and deterring further such appalling acts; it is therefore focused on regime facilities linked to the production and use of chemical weapons.
The UK element of the carefully coordinated joint action was contributed by four Royal Air Force Tornado GR4s. They launched Storm Shadow missiles at a military facility – a former missile base – some fifteen miles west of Homs, where the regime is assessed to keep chemical weapon precursors stockpiled in breach of Syria’s obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention.
Very careful scientific analysis was applied to determine where best to target the Storm Shadows to maximise the destruction of the stockpiled chemicals and to minimise any risks of contamination to the surrounding area. The facility which was struck is located some distance from any known concentrations of civilian habitation, reducing yet further any such risk.
Detailed analysis of the effectiveness of the strike is currently underway, but initial indications are that the precision of the Storm Shadow weapons and meticulous target planning have resulted in a successful attack.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “The reprehensible use of chemical weapons in Douma is further evidence of the Syrian regime’s appalling cruelty against its own people. We will not stand by whilst innocent civilians, including women and children, are killed and made to suffer.
“The international community has responded decisively with legal and proportionate military force. Let these united actions send a clear message to the regime – the use of chemical weapons is categorically unacceptable and you will be held to account.”
Pentagon Officials Describe Syria Strikes, Hope Assad Gets Message
(Source: US Department of Defense; issued April 14, 2018)
WASHINGTON --- The Syrian regime killed at least 45 people and sickened hundreds of others in a chemical weapons attack on Douma, Syria, April 7, and on April 13, U.S., British and French service members launched attacks that severely degraded the Syrian chemical arsenal and sent a message to Syrian leader Bashir Assad to stop using chemical weapons against his own people.
Chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana W. White and Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie, the Joint Staff director, briefed the press today from the Pentagon on the operation saying it was successful and that there were no allied casualties.
White said the attack on innocent civilians in Douma "demanded a response," and the allies targeted the Syrian regime's chemical weapons infrastructure. "We launched these strikes to limit Syria's ability to use chemical weapons in the future," she said.
Operation Carefully Planned
The operation was carefully orchestrated and methodically planned to lessen chances of civilian casualties, the spokesperson said. The missiles hit targets during the Syrian pre-dawn hours, and planners, weaponeers and aircrew were careful to ensure little collateral damage. "We successfully hit every target," White said.
Missiles hit three distinct military chemical weapons targets. "The three facilities are – or more appropriately, were – the fundamental components of the regime's chemical weapons warfare infrastructure," McKenzie said.
One target, the Barzah center, housed the regime's research, development and production center for chemical and biological weapons. Photos taken after the strike show that where once three buildings stood, there is now nothing but rubble.
Strikes also hit a chemical weapons storage facility and a chemical bunker facility. "We selected these targets carefully to minimize the risk to innocent civilians," the general said.
"We are still conducting a more detailed damage assessment, but initial indications are that we accomplished our military objectives without material interference. I would use three words to describe the operation: Precise, overwhelming and effective," he said.
Allies Fired 105 Weapons
The allies fired 105 weapons at these targets. The missiles came from British, French and American platforms in the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf and the Eastern Mediterranean, McKenzie said.
"All weapons hit their targets close to the designated time on target," he said. The American ships were: the USS Monterrey, the USS Laboon, the USS Higgins and the submarine USS John Warner. Two B-1 Lancer bombers launched joint air-to-surface stand-off missiles. Support aircraft – tankers, fighters, electronic warfare aircraft and more – also participated.
"None of our aircraft or missiles involved in this operation were successfully engaged by Syrian air defenses," McKenzie said. "We have no indication that Russian air defenses were employed."
Syrian response was ineffectual as the Syrians launched surface-to-air missiles on a ballistic trajectory. "Most of the launches occurred after our strike was over," the general said. "When you shoot iron into the air without guidance, it has to come down somewhere."
Since the strike, U.S. officials have not seen any military response from actors within Syria. "We remain postured to protect our forces and those of the coalition should anything occur," the general said.
-- Pentagon special report
, including statements, photographs, videos, briefing slides, and battle damage assessments
-- Transcript of Pentagon April 14 press conference