Georgia offers clues on the accuracy of Russian airstrikes in Syria

Reuters reports: In the courtyard of an apartment building in the town of Gori in ex-Soviet Georgia is a clue to whether Russia’s air strikes on targets in Syria are as accurate as the Kremlin would like the rest of the world to believe.

Fashioned out of fragments of ordnance is a makeshift shrine to the five residents killed during the Russian-Georgian war in August 2008 when a Russian air force jet, which Georgian defense officials believe was aiming for a nearby tank regiment, missed and hit the apartment building instead.

“So, can we say that their strikes were accurate? I don’t think so,” said Gori resident Avtandil Makharadze as he stood in front of the now-rebuilt apartment block.

Until Russia launched its military operation in Syria last month, the war in Georgia was the last time its air force had conducted air strikes in combat.

There are differences between the two campaigns. Russia’s military has undergone major modernization since the Georgian war. Unlike in Georgia, in Syria there are no anti-aircraft missiles shooting at Russian jets, which allows them to take their time lining up their targets.

But there are similarities too, so the performance of Russian aviation in the Georgia conflict could shed light on the operation in Syria, where making an independent assessment of the Russian strikes on the ground is impossible.

In particular, despite the advent of precision guided weapons in Russia’s arsenal, the majority of the munitions being launched in Syria are still the “dumb bombs” which in Georgia contributed to the off-target strikes. [Continue reading…]

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