According to Russian media reports citing a source in the Lebanese army, US navy destroyers; USS Porter and USS Ross, equipped with up to 90 Tomahawk cruise missiles each, were on April 5th off the coast of Sicily, but on April 6, suddenly made a sharp maneuver, to 40 miles southwest of Tel Aviv.
The US launched 59 Tomahawk land attack missiles targeting the Syrian military’s Shairaat air base. The operation, according to the Pentagon, was punishment for an alleged chemical attack, which claimed nearly 80 lives and left 200 injured on the outskirts of Khan Shaikhun, a small town in the militant-held province of Idlib, on Tuesday.
At 3.26 local time on April 6, the first salvo of Tomahawk cruise missiles was fired, and at 3.48 – the second salvo.
“The missiles were observed passing through Israeli and Lebanese airspace”, said the source, noting that the Lebanese military were outraged by the developments.
According to the source, some missiles flew through a valley at a height of around 50 meters, while the Russian air defense, stationed outside Syria’s Tartous and Hmeimim airbase, did not observe the missiles which when fired, had taken advantage of the radar’s blind spots.
Approximately 23 of the long-range, all-weather, subsonic cruise missiles were reported to have struck the sprawling airbase, with unverified reports of others having been shot down or having malfunctioned.
Situated 200 kilometers inside Syria, the Shairaat air base was also targeted and hit by missiles fired over the Golan Heights. Israel later declared airspace over the region closed until April 18.
Social media users reportedly mistook the incident as another Israeli operation, as missiles were observed coming from Israeli and Lebanese territory, as well as over Syria’s Daraa, Damascus and Homs provinces. Sky News Arabia initially reported the strikes as an attack mounted by Israel.
On April 8, according to unverified Belgian media reports, Defense Minister Steven questioned the effectiveness of the cooperative mechanism set up between the Russian military and US-led coalition in Syria, as he announced that operations would be suspended “until further notice”.