Armenia’s Prime-Minister Nikol Pashinyan shocked the Russian Defense Ministry when he complained about the Iskander-E missile system’s ineffectiveness in a public interview (23 February 2021). PM Pashinyan said that the Iskander missiles launched during the short war with Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region “didn’t explode or maybe 10 percent of them exploded.” When asked why the Iskander disappointed, Pashniyan hinted at the missile’s old age: “I don’t know… maybe they were weapons from the ‘80s.”
Video of the Armenian Iskander launch pic.twitter.com/keTt7IT2MG
— Fabian Hinz (@fab_hinz) November 9, 2020
“IT WORKS JUST FINE”
In response to Pashiynan’s claims, Russia has released a video montage showing two successful Iskander strikes – both ballistic and cruise missile variants – in Syria. But instead of clearing the Iskander’s name, Russia has inadvertently proved that it has targeted hospitals – an allegation that Moscow has perpetually disputed despite evidence to the contrary from open-source investigations (e.g. New York Times) and even the United Nations (UN).
Минобороны России прокомментировало заявление Пашиняна об “Искандерах”https://t.co/1wMbKp5AYU pic.twitter.com/KOVOiiTBcX
— РИА Новости (@rianru) February 25, 2021
The second clip from the compilation shows an Iskander missile hitting an H-shaped building. Twitter user and geolocation wizard @obretix identified the target as a hospital in Azaz, near the Turkish border. While the footage is undated, the attack seems to match reports from early 2016 about an unclaimed strike on Azaz hospital.
geolocation of an alleged Russian Iskander missile strike on Azaz Hospital https://t.co/gssLijCNMc https://t.co/0BMU4T2D2C pic.twitter.com/hHxPN5Yj54
— Samir (@obretix) February 25, 2021
HOSPITAL ATTACK TOOK PLACE IN EARLY 2016
An Airwars assessment from 19 January 2016, quoting two Syrian sources, informs: “Russian forces targeted the town of Azaz with two ballistic missiles, causing the death of one civilian and injury of several others.”
A Reuters report from 15 Feb 2016 similarly mentions an unattributed missile strike on a “hospital and school sheltering refugees in Azaz, Syria,” quoting local residents and medics. A Physicians Across Continents (PAC) Facebook post corroborates the Reuters report and describes an airstrike on Azaz hospital.
Breaking news: At least 14 dead as missiles hit hospital and school sheltering refugees in Azaz, Syria, medics and residents say
— Reuters (@Reuters) February 15, 2016
Sentinel-2 satellite imagery from that time is sparse and does not cover every day. However, when comparing imagery from 17 January vs. 16 February, there seems to be a “splash” mark on the impact area seen in the footage.
Google Earth Pro high-resolution imagery from 20 March 2016 shows the same area at Aziz hospital visibly scared.
In conclusion, Russia’s Iskander attack on the hospital took place before mid-March 2016, and very likely between 17 January and 16 February.
Turkey has since repaired and renovated the hospital, and it is now functional again.
Turkey has build up a major hospital in Syria’s Azaz paid by the Turkish tax payers.
The doctors and nurses in the hospital are Syrian and Turkish, paid by Turkey.
Syrians get medical treatment for free mainly.
But Turkey does not get credit for it 🤷♂️ pic.twitter.com/iIziurOwsy
— Ömer Özkizilcik (@OmerOzkizilcik) October 20, 2020
The Iskander is not the first Russian system that is publicly scrutinized. Observers, including T-Intelligence, have noted the ease with which Turkish drones managed to hunt down Russian-made Pantsir aerial defense systems in Syria and Libya. The Russian Defense Ministry is growing increasingly defensive about the effectiveness of its capabilities. However, with this latest “public relations” stunt, Russia has foremost proven that it bombs hospitals, not that the Iskander-E works.