Secret Military Bases: Minakh AFB, Syria

The Syrian rebels have been getting battered by Bashar al-Assad lately, despite pledges of assistance from the Obama Administration. Not much to cheer about until now.

What’s great about the New York Times is they always supply enough data to locate, validate and expand upon their far-flung news stories. All that’s needed is a little ingenuity and Google Earth™.

Rebel fighters on Monday swept into a sprawling government air base in northern Syria
Rebels Gain Control of Government Air Base in Syria
– Anne Barnard and Hwaida Saad, New York Times, 8/5/2013

The NYT has a very liberal, Obama-friendly editorial policy. Sometimes it dribbles over into their news reporting.

How accurate was the NYT announcement of Monday’s Syrian rebel victory?

The Devil is in the Details

Minakh Helicopter Base (Source: Google Earth-5/10/2011)

According to the NYT, the “sprawling” air base is Minakh AFB. It is a lightly fortified helicopter facility in the far north of Syria barely 8 miles from the Turkish border.

According to Google Earth, the sleepy town next to the base is منّغ. Yup, that’s right – منّغ. You’ll be tested on that later. Remember, spelling and pronunciation count!

Minakh AFB has no warplanes, no tanks, no missiles, no military vehicles, no large defensive weapons, no barracks, no army and no military fortifications to speak of at all.

Minahk AFB just parks helicopters… 33 on Google Earth’s most recent image.

In the war biz that is what’s known as easy pickings.

Minahk helicopters (Google Earth-9/13/2005)

Main Gate (Google Earth-5/10/2011)

For protection it has a flimsy front gate into it’s only entrance. There’s a low surrounding wall in wide open spaces. It is, maybe, a mile at it’s widest point. Downtown Damascus, it ain’t.

It isn’t “sprawling” and it’s only lightly defended.

The facility has been there since at least December 30th, 2004 and didn’t even have a surrounding wall or any surrounding anything at all until after that. As of 9/13/2005 there was still a breach in the town-side wall.

The NYT mentions Minahk AFB is in Aleppo Province. Type “Minahk, Syria” into Google Earth’s search box and it will take you right to the small town next to it. Check it out for yourself.

Minahk has been fought over constantly since civil war broke out. It has exchanged hands so many times it sells both rebel and government souvenirs in the gift shop.

Below is a ground level view during a government air attack last January.

Click to see video of Minahk helicopter facility during a January 2013 government attack

Warplanes from the base had struck at villages across northern Syria – New York Times, 8/5/2013

Minahk “warplanes” (Google Earth)

This shows the type of “warplanes” the NYT said were used to attack surrounding villages from Minahk AFB.

Not exactly stealth fighters. But if you are a rebel with no airplanes they are intimidating. They could also be used to drop chemical weapon filled balloons.


Rebels retaking Minahk isn’t as impressive as it sounds when conditions of the ground and its history are known. A nebulous victory report in the lightly defended northern coastal governance of Latakia is even less impressive given, as Google Earth shows,it is less defended against ground forces than Minahk and in mountainous territory.

The rebel loss in Homs, however, is a crushing blow to the resistance. It relegates them to pecking around the outskirts of the northern territories and holding no major cities.

Just months ago the rebels were knocking at al-Assad’s palace doorstep.

You can learn a lot about a news report just by using Google Earth.

The New York Times rates an “A” for reporting on Syria, but a “C-” for rebel exaggerations.


About azleader

Learning to see life more clearly... one image at a time!

Posted on Aug 7, 2013, in journalism, Life, Military, news, Opinion, Politics, Satellite images, secret military bases, syria, war and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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