The audacious multiple-drone attack on Russia’s military bases in Syria is increasingly looking like a false flag carried out by the American Central Intelligence Agency. Sophisticated technology and a Ukrainian connection indicate that the swarm attack with 13 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) was not the work solely of Syrian anti-government militants.
What’s more the Russian government appears to have the incriminating evidence on who sanctioned the drone attacks against the Russian air base at Hmeimim and its naval port at Tartus on January 6.
The weapons failed to execute their deadly mission. Of the 13 drones used, seven were shot down by Russian Pantsir S-1 air defenses and six were safely landed by Russian electronic jamming technology. Those captured intact UAVs will have provided forensic information about what agency authored the plot.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said coyly, “We know who did it”, without as of yet specifying the culprit.
Images of the UAVs released by the Russian Ministry of Defense showed rudimentary construction from what appeared to be plywood.
However, the navigation technology and explosives onboard were sophisticated and professionally made. This was no amateurish mission, as might have been expected if militants alone had carried it out.
Furthermore, the drones were unlikely to have been made by Syrian militants. Russian analysis of the explosive PENT substance indicates that Ukraine was the source. That points to the Americans as the bridging agency between Ukraine and Syria.
Another key factor is that at the time of the attacks, Russian military detected a US Poseidon surveillance aircraft in proximity over the Syrian coastal area. The Poseidon would have the ability to guide the drones to the precise location of the Russian bases. Although the plane is commonly thought of as part of the US Navy fleet, that does not preclude the CIA having their own Poseidon aircraft.
It is also significant that Crimean lawmaker Ruslan Balbek has recently claimed that American Poseidon aircraft are being used to mount drone attacks by the US-backed Kiev regime. Balbek went further and said be believes the objective is to conduct a false flag attack on the minority Tatar community in Crimea. The “atrocity” would then be pinned on the Crimean authorities which the Western media would in turn amplify as condemnation of Russia.
On the Syrian attack, Russian President Vladimir Putin said last week at a meeting with senior Russian media executives that the culprit was not Turkey even though the drones were initiated from the northern Syrian province of Idlib where Turkish military forces are associated with militant groups.
“The attacks were provocations to destroy relations between Russia, Turkey and Iran. They were provocateurs, but they were not Turks,” said Putin.
Russia has yet to publicly attribute explicit blame for who was behind the drone operation. But the Kremlin appears to be confident in its incriminating information.
“Those aircraft were only camouflaged – I want to emphasize this – to look like handicraft production. In fact, it is quite obvious that there were elements of high-tech nature there,” Putin said.
The Russian president appeared to address the culprit with a cryptic remark: “You know that I know,” he said.
For its part, the Pentagon has categorically denied US involvement in the drone incidents. At a press conference in Washington DC last week, Marine Corps Lieutenant General Kenneth F McKenzie Jr said: “The United States was not involved in any way with the drone attack on Russian bases at any time.”
Another Pentagon spokesmen said accusations of American complicity were “ridiculous” and “reckless”.
The US military chiefs may be genuinely speaking honestly – as far as they know about the circumstances. In other words, it is plausible that the Pentagon was not involved in the drone attacks.
If so then that points to the other candidate being the CIA. After all, as US-based political analyst Randy Martin commented for this column, it is the CIA which has been the main driver behind the entire American drone weapon and surveillance program around the world, from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen and Ukraine to a swathe of African countries.
Given the routine clandestine and autonomous nature of the CIA, it is conceivable that neither the Pentagon nor even the Trump White House would be aware of all the agency’s operations. The agency is apt to go rogue at any time, and the lack of knowledge among other branches of government in Washington affords the all-important foil of “plausible denial”.
Here is a speculative, but credible scenario: CIA operatives on the ground in Syria launch a swarm of armed drones on the Russian bases. The rickety design of the UAVs is aimed at giving the appearance of Turkish-backed militants in Idlib province. As Putin remarked, the objective was to scapegoat Turkey as complicit.
If that worked, then relations between Moscow and Ankara, as well as Tehran, would become acutely strained. Washington is known to be unhappy with the rapprochement between Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The hi-tech navigation equipment and explosives onboard the drones, plus the telltale presence of an American Poseidon surveillance aircraft in the skies above suggest the involvement of a US state agency – the CIA.
Washington’s agenda in Syria has nothing to do with defeating terrorism. It is to propagate instability and chaos to undermine the Syrian government of President Assad and allied Russian achievement in overcoming the US regime-change plot. Nothing would please the American agenda more than for Russia, Turkey and Iran to bust up their detente in Syria.
The CIA has the expertise and technological capability to mount the sophisticated drone attack on the Russian bases. It also has the motivation to carry it out to further its regime-change intrigues. Who gains?
Still, there is another wild card in the pack, as analyst Randy Martin posits. He says: “The swarm drone attack was probably the first time that such a tactic was ever used in military records. It may have been carried out not only as a false flag to blame Turkey, but also as a way for the operatives to test Russian air defenses and signals intelligence.”
Martin added: “The danger is that we can expect more such attacks, perhaps with deadly consequences, against Russian forces in Syria as well as against Crimea and separatists in Eastern Ukraine.”
The implications are grave. If it is confirmed that the CIA were behind the drone attack on Russian bases in Syria, then that is tantamount to an act of war by the Americans – regardless of it being actioned by a rogue agency.
That might explain why the Kremlin is holding its cards very close to its chest on the matter. This is explosive.
Finian Cunningham has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. He is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. He is also a musician and songwriter. For nearly 20 years, he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organisations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent.
This article was originally published by Strategic Culture Foundation
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