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Early on the morning of April 7, American warships stationed in the Mediterranean Sea fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian airbase in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack carried out by the Syrian regime. But in a report published on Sunday at the German newspaper Die Welt, veteran investigative reporter Seymour Hersh throws cold water on the claim of Syrian culpability, exposing yet another instance of military action based on flawed—or in this case, entirely nonexistent—intelligence.
Russian Intelligence and the April 4 Strike
On April 4 at about 6:55 a.m., Syrian time, the Syrian government carried out an airstrike on a two-story cinder block building determined by Russian intelligence to be a rebel command center, where commanders of the Syrian opposition’s most radical Islamist factions frequently met. The strike killed up to four jihadist leaders, according to an intelligence estimate.
Hersh sets the scene: