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Can Donald Trump Really Blame Iran For Rocket Attack?

Can Donald Trump Really Blame Iran For Rocket Attack?

Donald Trump just accused Iran of the rocket attack on the US embassy in Baghdad, threatening retaliation!

Take a look at the picture of three rockets he posted, and find out what the facts really are!

 

Donald Trump : Iran Responsible For Rocket Attack On US Embassy

Even in the waning days of his Presidency, Donald Trump isn’t quite done with Iran.

In a new threat against the Islamic Republic of Iran, Trump posted a picture of three unfired rockets, which he claimed were from Iran.

Our embassy in Baghdad got hit Sunday by several rockets. Three rockets failed to launch. Guess where they were from: IRAN. Now we hear chatter of additional attacks against Americans in Iraq…Some friendly health advice to Iran: If one American is killed, I will hold Iran responsible. Think it over.

As Trump isn’t a very popular president outside of his fanatical base (no kidding), there is much skepticism about his post.

Some have pointed out that the rockets have English markings and could be American-made. Others wonder if these are even rockets – they look more like large versions of a rifle cartridge than rockets.

 

Rocket Attack On US Embassy : A Quick Primer

Before we look into the veracity of Trump’s claims, here’s a quick primer on the rocket attack on the US embassy in Baghdad, Iraq.

At around 8:30 PM on Sunday, 20 December 2020, approximately 21 rockets were fired on the US embassy in Baghdad.

Only about half of the rockets hit the embassy compound, while the others missed and hit an Iraqi apartment complex and vehicles near the embassy.

Photo Credit : Reuters/Landov

In the end, two buildings and a gym in the embassy, vehicles outside the embassy and a generator at the apartment complex, were damaged.

There was only one injury – an Iraqi soldier – no one else died or were injured by the attack.

 

Is Iran Responsible For Rocket Attack On US Embassy?

Unfortunately, the answer isn’t quite so simple as yes or no, Iran did or did not fire those rockets at the US embassy in Baghdad.

Let’s take a look at the facts…

Fact #1 : Those Are 107 mm Haseb Rockets

The Haseb is an Iranian copy of the Chinese Type 63-2 – a spin-stabilised 107 mm rocket with a high-explosive (HE) warhead.

The entire rocket weighs about 18 kg, with an 8 kg cast TNT warhead and a Chinese MJ-1 (Jiàn-1) impact and graze fuse.

Fact #2 : Iran Manufactures + Uses 107mm Haseb Rockets

Haseb rockets are manufactured by Iran’s Armaments Industries Group (AIG), and used by Iranian forces as a short-ranged barrage weapon.

In this picture, IRGC commandos are seen loading a Type 63 rocket launcher mounted onto a pickup truck.

Fact #3 : The English Markings Are Genuine

Some sharp-eyed netizens noticed that rockets have English words on them, instead of Farsi or Arabic words :

107mm ROCKET
LOT : 573
DATE : 2016
N.W : 18kg
R.No. : 2103

This has led to suggestions that the rockets may be fake, or made by Americans themselves, or replicas of the real rockets used in a false flag operation.

Here you can see the actual rockets (on the left) and inert replicas of the Haseb rockets. No doubt they look very similar.

However, there is really no need for the US military to purchase replicas even for a false flag operation. Many Haseb rockets have been captured over the years.

The English markings do not mean they are American-made. The Haseb rocket is also made for export by Iran’s Armaments Industries Group (AIG), and so uses English markings.

The inert replica above has English markings, because the real Haseb rockets have English markings.

Fact #4 : Haseb Rockets Have A Very Short Range

Haseb rockets have a very short range – up to 9 kilometres, and are not very accurate.

That means they would have to be fired very close to the Baghdad Green Zone in order to have a reasonable chance of hitting the US embassy inside.

Any suggestion that Iranian forces fired them inside Baghdad itself would be ludicrous. Even if Iran wanted to strike at the Americans, they would use an allied militant group to make attribution difficult.

Fact #5 : Attribution Is Difficult

The Haseb rockets are not exclusively used by Iranian forces. They are exported to Iranian auxiliary forces and allied militant groups like the Hezbollah.

So it would not be possible for the United States to directly attribute the rocket attack to Iran, unless they capture the people who actually fired the rockets.

It could also be a rogue militant group, or even a false flag action by a rival nation-state. After all, numerous examples of the Haseb rocket have been captured by other militant groups and even countries like Israel.

In fact, Gen. Frank McKenzie, who leads the US Central Command and once warned that American forces imminent threat from Iran specifically told The Wall Street Journal,

I do not know the degree to which Iran is complicit. We do not seek a war, and I don’t actually believe they seek one either.

Even Iran-backed Kataib Hezbollah described the rocket attack on the US embassy as “undisciplined“.

Fact #6 : We Don’t Know Who Owned Those Rockets

The three Haseb rockets that Donald Trump posted were obviously not fired.

But whether they “failed to launch” as Trump claimed, or were simply captured unfired, is unknown. Trump likely can’t tell the difference.

Unless the rocketeers were captured together with these three rockets, it would be impossible to also attribute the rocket attack to any particular group, never mind Iran.

Even so, the mere possession of these rockets does not mean that they actually launched that particular attack.

 

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How Did Iran Shoot Down UIA Flight PS752 By Mistake?

It seems incredulous that Iran could shoot down UIA Flight PS752 by mistake, but the sad fact is that no military can always correctly identify bogies.

We examine how Iran mistook UIA Flight PS752 for a US cruise missile, and shot it down with a Tor M1 missile, killing all 176 people onboard.

 

The Circumstances Surrounding UIA Flight PS752

On 3 January 2020, US President Donald Trump escalated tensions with Iran by ordering the assassination of Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani.

Soleimani’s assassination by Hellfire missile could be construed as an act of war against Iran, and naturally compelled a military response. That came in the form of 22 ballistic missiles fired on two US bases in Iraq.

Recommended : Is Donald Trump RESPONSIBLE For UIA Flight 752 Deaths?

The Iranians expected a US cruise missile attack in retaliation, and appeared to have prepared for such an eventuality with the deployment of short range missile defence systems around Tehran.

Five hours after they fired those ballistic missiles, UIA Flight PS752 took off from the Imam Khomeini International Airport.

Unfortunately, a SAM operator mistook it for a US cruise missile, and shot it down with a Tor M1 missile.

So how could Iran’s veteran military forces have made such a colossal mistake?

 

Tor M1 / SA-15 Gauntlet

First, let’s consider the SAM platform that shot down UIA Flight PS752 – the Russian Tor M1, also known by its NATO designation SA-15 Gauntlet.

The Tor (Russian for Torus) missile system is an armoured tracked vehicle with a pulse-doppler radar, and eight 9K331 Tor M1 missiles.

Introduced in 1991, this mobile SAM system is designed to accompany and protect troops in a battlefield against hostile aircraft and cruise missiles.

It is not usually parked in defence of fixed installations, and have greater autonomy than centralised air defence systems. It is likely that the Iranians brought in these mobile SAM systems as the last line of defence in an impending conflict.

 

War-Like Situation Before PS752 Flight

Next, we have to consider the war footing that the Iranian military, and specifically, the IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) found itself in, after launching ballistic missiles at US bases.

Besides, the United States did earlier just assassinate one of their top military leaders – an action that could be considered an act of war.

Even if the Iranian government does not want a war with the United States, the Iranian military and the IRGC would have been compelled to prepare for the worst.

It is with that mindset in mind, that we consider how Iran could have mistaken UIA Flight PS752 for a cruise missile, shooting it down.

 

How Did Iran Shoot Down UIA Flight PS752 By Mistake?

Poor Training?

As one of Iran’s older SAM systems and a short range system at that, the Tor M1 is likely to be assigned to less elite units. So it is plausible that inexperience or poor training led to the tragedy.

No Central Command?

Multiple Tor vehicles can be linked to a Ranzhir-M mobile command center, for increased detection range and centralised command.

It is possible that the Tor vehicles were dispersed for localised defence, and not linked to a central command system. That would leave the decision to fire in the hands of a junior officer, possibly even a conscript!

Short Reaction Time?

The Tor M1 missile also has a narrow engagement range of 1.5 km to 12 km. It cannot be used against anything closer than 1.5 km, or further than 12 km.

When Flight PS752 popped up just a few kilometres from this Tor M1 vehicle, it would give the missile operator just a matter of seconds to identify it and decide whether to fire or not.

Heightened Expectations Of A Strike?

The expectation of a retaliatory strike would, no doubt, weigh heavily on the mind of the missile operator. After all, they just fired 22 ballistic missiles on two US bases.

In normal circumstances, the Tor missile system would not be “weapons hot”. But they were expecting a salvo of cruise missiles, so the missile operator would have been light on the trigger.

Failure To Whitelist Flight PS752?

When Flight PS752 popped up on the Tor missile system’s radar, the operator would have to decide if it was a hostile aircraft or a legitimate civilian aircraft.

Unfortunately, its pulse-doppler radar would not be able identify the type of the aircraft, only its speed and direction. But Flight PS752 and a Tomahawk cruise missile would have roughly similar subsonic speeds.

An example of a pulse doppler radar’s display

That’s why civilian airliners use transponders and the IFF system to ensure that everyone knows that they are not a threat. Flight PS752 would definitely have been squawking its transponder code.

Normally, SAM crews would receive the flight plans and transponder codes for airliners scheduled to fly in and out of the area, so they can be eliminated as threats.

It is plausible that this Tor missile operator did not, or could not, clear Flight PS752’s transponder code, and assumed it was a cruise missile attempting to masquerade as an airliner.

Failure To Establish No-Fly Zone

One thing is for sure though – the Iranians should have established a no-fly zone around Tehran, after firing their ballistic missiles. It was a serious and fatal mistake.

The danger of jittery, trigger-happy Air Defence crews in charge of weapons hot SAM systems cannot be understated.

It would also have made it easier to identify hostile aircraft in Iranian airspace. Yet they continued to let civilian aircraft fly in and out of Tehran.

 

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