Update: The Pentagon has formally denied that tonight’s massive sustained attack on Syria had US involvement.
US-funded VOA News reports a Pentagon spokesman issuing the following statement: “I can unequivocally say this is not us,” said Navy Cmdr. Sean Robertson.
Regional sources report, citing Syrian officials, that Monday night’s attack involved “cruise missiles fired from the sea”.
— Carla Babb (@CarlaBabbVOA) September 17, 2018
Another attack on Syria has occurred tonight on multiple locations in what is the largest sustained series of what are believed to be Israeli or possibly US air strikes in months. But hugely significant is that early reports suggest Russia’s S-400 anti-missile missile defense system engaged the inbound rockets.
On Monday night Syrian state-run SANA confirmed multiple missiles fired “from the sea into Lattakia city” in “an aggression from unknown source” which state media says involved successful intercepts by Syrian missile defense.
British-Syrian journalist Danny Makki, currently reporting from the ground, says the attack “lasted for a total of 1 hour 30 minutes” and missiles soared over four cities including Latakia, Tartus, Homs and Hama — with rockets and explosions lighting up the sky especially over the coastal towns.
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Though it appears another Israeli strike – as it came less than two days following an attack near Damascus – the details are still unknown, and some observers are speculating it could be an American attack, given that at least some of the missiles were fired from the sea.
SANA reports “an aggression on Latakia has targeted the Technical Industries’ establishment” adding that “the air defenses intercepted and downed a number of the missiles”.
Multiple journalists in the region further said that Syrian air defenses were activated across four provinces including Latakia and Tartus on the coast, as well as over Homs and Hama which are more inland.
The initial major strike on Latakia, located on the Syrian coast, reportedly targeted a Syrian Scientific Research Center (SSRC) facility, and newly published video and images from Syrian sources show massive fireballs lighting up the sky.
— maytham (@maytham956) September 17, 2018
— Danny Makki (@Dannymakkisyria) September 17, 2018
But significantly the location of the strike is in the vicinity of Russia’s Hmeymim airbase, and there are early unconfirmed reports that Russia engaged the inbound assault via its advanced S-400 system.
According to the Middle East Institute’s Charles Lister, “Reports suggest Russia air defenses in Hmeymim participated in attempting to repel tonight’s strikes in Latakia.”
Lister continued, “*IF* that’s true, that’d be a significant development. Some reports also say strikes came from sea; leading to accusations of a U.S naval cruise missile attack.”
Unconfirmed local eyewitness accounts say that two hostile aircraft were shot down during the lengthy assault.
A number of videos are circulating on Syrian social media which purport to show successful Syria or Russian missile defense intercepts during the sustained attacks.
— Aghiad AL Kheder (@aghiad_alkheder) September 17, 2018
As yet, there’s been no confirmation of who carried out the attack; however, a report early this month cited Tel Aviv sources who confirmed that Israel’s Air Force has conducted 200 attacks on locations inside Syria over the course of the past 2 years alone, according to Reuters.
The major escalation comes just after Russia’s Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan met Monday to announce that a demilitarized zone in the Idlib will be formed by October 15.