How many Syrian jets have been destroyed?

  • 08/04/2017

Russia and the US are at odds over how much damage the US tomahawk missile strike had in Syria on Friday.

US officials claim the strike was a success, with "about 20" jet fighters destroyed at the Shayrat airfield in Homs, but the Russian ministry claims only six Mig-23 jet fighters were lost, and that only 23 out of 59 tomahawk missiles reached their target.

Either way, the losses are just a fraction of the airpower within the Syrian Arab Air Force.

Syria has at least 450 Russian-made jet fighters such as powerful Mig-23, Mig-25 and Mig-29 military aircraft.

Russian-made Mig-29 jet fighter
The Syrian Arab Air Force is one the most powerful in the Middle East - including high-tech Russian-made Mig-29 jet fighters. (Getty)

Over 100 of these aircraft are purpose-built for ground attack purposes - such as firing chemical weapons.

Syria has made a defiant response to the US missile attack on one its air bases, flying several planes from the bombed airfield.

The Syrian army says the US attack on Shayrat airfield killed six people, and called it "blatant aggression" that made the United States a partner of "terrorist groups" including Islamic State.

There was no independent confirmation of civilian casualties.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the strike took out about 20 percent of the seventh wing of the Syrian air force and hit a fuelling facility. The base's runway was still in use.

Russia has warned that the air strikes could have "extremely serious" consequences, as President Donald Trump's first major foray into a foreign conflict opened up a rift between Moscow and Washington.

The strikes were in reaction to what Washington says was a poison gas attack by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that killed at least 70 people in rebel-held territory.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer posted this photo on Twitter of Donald Trump's security briefing on the Syria strikes:

US officials reportedly informed Russian forces ahead of the missile strikes and avoided hitting Russian personnel.

Satellite imagery suggests the base houses Russian special forces and helicopters, part of the Kremlin's effort to help Mr Assad fight Islamic State and other militant groups.

Russia joined the war on Mr Assad's behalf in 2015, turning the momentum in his favour. Although Moscow supports opposing sides in the war between Mr Assad and the rebels, the United States and Russia say they share a single main enemy, Islamic State.

Reuters / Newshub.

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