Did Balakot Airstrikes Hit Their Target? Satellite Imagery Raises Doubts

 Though Indian Air Force (IAF) claims that their surgical strike at Balakot was successful and met their intended targets, new evidence giving different perception. High-resolution satellite images reviewed by Reuters show that a religious school run by Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) in northeastern Pakistan appears to be still standing days after India claimed its warplanes hit the group’s training camp on the site and killed a large number of militants.

The images produced by Planet Labs Inc, a San Francisco-based private satellite operator, show at least six buildings on the madrasa site on March 4, six days after the airstrike. These are the high-resolution satellite images publicly available, till now.

The images from Planet Labs, which show details as small as 72 cm (28 inches), offer a clearer look at the structures the Indian government said were attacked. The image is virtually unchanged from an April 2018 satellite photo of the facility. There are no discernible holes in the roofs of buildings, no signs of scorching, blown-out walls, displaced trees around the madrasa or other signs of an aerial attack.

Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Project at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, who has 15 years’ experience in analysing satellite images of weapons sites and systems, confirmed that the high-resolution satellite picture showed the structures in question.

“The high-resolution images don’t show any evidence of bomb damage,” he said. Lewis viewed three other high-resolution Planet Labs pictures of the site taken within hours of the image provided to Reuters. It may be recalled that the Indian government has not publicly disclosed what weapons were used in the strike.

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