Hit and Miss in #Syria

Fact checking Russia’s latest videos of its “massive strikes” in Syria

With Russia’s announcement of a “major operation to launch massive strikes on Daesh and al-Nusra Front targets in the Idlib and Homs provinces” of Syria, the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) has once again published a slew of video footage showing its apparent success.

However, analysis of some of the videos shows that the MoD’s targeting, and its reporting, are far from precise.

One such video, released as part of sequences by the MoD, shows a “Kalibr” cruise missile strike on what was described as a militant “headquarters”:

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Screenshot from video “Пуски и поражение крылатыми ракетами комплексов «Калибр» и «Бастион» объектов террористов в Сирии” in the YouTube channel of the Russian Ministry of Defense

Comparison with open source satellite imagery reveals that the location in question is at 35.9788744N, 37.3158574E, near Zeraa, south-east of Aleppo, in Syria. This geolocation was first completed by Twitter user @ArtWendeley, and confirmed by the DFRLab team as correct. According to online tool Wikimapia, it formerly served as an army base:

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Screenshot from Wikimapia

The first picture in the MoD’s sequence shows the compound. Close to the center of the picture, a long, low building is marked with a red spot. It has a square construction jutting out from the roof on the left-hand end, and two craters in the open space beneath.

The next shots show the moment of the strike. Here, the building is marked by a targeting cross, indicating that it is the center of the observing drone’s attention (but not necessarily that the drone is directing the targeting of the missile). The square structure on the left-hand end and the two craters beneath are visible. However, not all of the building is visible. It is positioned at the very top of the screen, and the actual point of impact is not shown: only the flames can be seen.

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Screenshot from video “Пуски и поражение крылатыми ракетами комплексов «Калибр» и «Бастион» объектов террористов в Сирии” in the YouTube channel of the Russian Ministry of Defense

 

See more: https://medium.com/@DFRLab/hit-and-miss-38a489b45ed6#.9gpre1877