Can’t be true. Can it?
It’s hard to believe a small base with two runways, which was reportedly “almost completely destroyed” by 59 tomahawks, would be in usable condition today. But the source here, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, is an anti-Assad outfit. They have no obvious motive to hand him a propaganda victory by lying.
Syrian warplanes took off from an air base which was hit by U.S. cruise missiles on Friday, and carried out air strikes on rebel-held areas in the eastern Homs countryside, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The U.S. Navy had fired dozens of missiles at the air base near Homs city in response to a chemical attack this week which Washington and its allies blamed on the Damascus government…
The extent of the damage to the Shayrat air base was not entirely clear, but the Syrian warplanes had “done the impossible” in order to continue using it for sorties, the Observatory told Reuters.
We’ll see what the Pentagon says. One alternate possibility: The SOHR is lying because it’s anti-Assad. They want Trump to hit him again, harder this time. Another possibility is that, despite the report of “warplanes” taking off, it was actually some other type of aircraft that wouldn’t need a runway. BuzzFeed notes that Russian attack helicopters have been based at the airfield side by side with Syrian jets since last year. Are those the “warplanes” that were spotted? I hope this report, which is sensational, is based on something more than “we saw jets come from the direction of the airbase, therefore we assume they took off from there.”
If it is true, the ball’s back in Trump’s court. Does he hit the airfield again or let Assad have his “victory” by continuing to operate from the base? The point of the strikes were to demonstrate American strength. Failing to disable the base suggests weakness. For what it’s worth, here’s what the Russians are claiming is drone footage of the base showing minimal damage to the facilities except around the perimeter. Normally that would be easy to dismiss but the SOHR report gives it a bit more credibility.
Watch drone footage showing the aftermath of the U.S. missile strike on Syria. pic.twitter.com/taYlixsL2E
— NBC News (@NBCNews) April 7, 2017