US President Donald Trump wanted to include Russian and Iranian forces deployed in Syria into the list of targets of the April 14 US-led strike on the country, the Wall Street Journal reported citing sources familiar with the decision making process.
According to the report, the Pentagon provided Trump with three main options:
- A powerful missile attack aimed at the alleged chemical weapons facilities of the Syrian government.
- Strikes on “a broader set of Syrian regime targets, including suspected chemical-weapons research facilities and military command centers.”
- “The most expansive proposal, which might have included strikes on Russian air defenses in Syria, was designed to cripple the regime’s military capabilities without touching Mr. Assad’s political machinery.”
President Trump and his team was considering to adopt the 3rd Scenario but Defense Secretary Jim Mattis pushed back, according to the newspaper’s sources. So, the “hybrid plan” of actions was approvided and then implemented on April 14.
Let’s check some background of the April 14 strikes to make the Wall Street Journal’s story more interesting.
According to the Pentagon’s official story, the US, France and the UK launched 105 missiles at three “chemical weapons” facilities of the Syrian government. The US military emphasized that all the missiles (100%) had hit their targets: 76 missiles hit “Barzah Research and Development Center”, 22 missiles hit “Him Shinshar Chemical Weapons Storage Site”, 7 missiles hit “Him Shinshar CW Bunker” where the chemical weapons were researched, produced and stored.
These claims immediately raised three main questions in the public:
- Why 76 missiles were launched at one target?
- Why the damage delivered to “Barzah Research and Development Center” is so minor?
- Why there was no disperce of chemical agents clouds as a result of the strike if the missiles hit “chemical weapons” facilities?
By the way, the Barzah Research and Development Center was recently inspected [November 22, 2017] by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the OPCW found no chemical weapons traces there.
On the other hand, the Russian Defense Ministry says that 71 missile had been intercepted by the Syrian Air Defense Forces (SADF), according to experts, most likely with the Russian and Iranian assistance. Reports from sources familiar with the situation in the Pentagon indicate that the US military leadership is concerned over the results of the April 14 strike and is about to launch an invesitation into this issue.
According to some sources, the Pentagon could have just “summed up” a major part of the intercepted missiles to the “Barzeh strike”. This would explain the “need” of 76 missiles to destroy three relatively small buildings.
In this case, the Wall Street Journal’s article is just an attempt to explain gaps in the Pentagon’s story with some kind of “complicated decision making process” that led to a “hybrid plan” to destroy 3 buildings with 76 missiles.