Russia: Syria air defence intercepted 71 missiles

Reports say US Tomahawk missiles used to target Syria, as UK and France deploy Tornado, Mirage and Rafale jets.

    A senior Russian military official has said that Syrian air defence had intercepted at least 71 cruise missiles fired by US, UK and French forces.

    At a news conference in Moscow on Saturday, Lieutenant General 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 bomber were involved in the operation, as well as UK Tornado fighters.

    The US-led strikes on Saturday came 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 airbase. Reuters quoted a US official 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. 

    French officials said its military had fired at least 12 missiles into Syria, and that they believe none of their missiles was intercepted.

    A British pilot checks the weapons on his Tornado jet in Cyprus after its mission in Syria [AP]

    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 a 1,000-pound warhead at a range of 900 nautical miles (1,667km). 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 airbase in Akrotiri, Cyprus. 

    The Tornado fighter is capable of carrying GPS-guided bombs, Brimstone air-to-ground missiles and the 2,860-pound Storm Shadow cruise missiles, as well as 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".

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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