US prepares Kinetic Strikes against Syria
Christof Lehmann (nsnbc) , -On Saturday, the US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, will present initial preparations for a cruise missile attack on Syria at a White House meeting. US Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, has according to a CBS News report on Friday 23 August, asked Dempsey to present initial preparations.
Hagel implied, that the preparations for the missile strikes are related to the possible chemical weapons use by the Syrian Armed Forces on Wednesday. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff however, has already in July 2013 stated, that the Obama administration is preparing various scenarios for a possible U.S. Military intervention in Syria and is considering whether the USA should use “the brute of the U.S. Military, and kinetic strikes”.
On Wednesday, unsubstantiated reports about a large scale chemical weapons attack were disseminated on Al-Arabiya and Al-Jazeera, killing, according to different sources between dozens, hundreds, and up to 1.188 people.
On Friday, the U.S.´s Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, suggested that U.S. Naval Forces are moving into position closer to Syria in the case that the Obama administration chooses to take direct military action against Syria. Hagel said, that:
“The Defense Department has a responsibility to provide the President with options for contingencies, and that requires pointing our forces, positioning our assets, to be able to carry out different options – whatever options the President might choose.. .. There may be another (chemical weapons) attack”.
The Reuters news agency quotes an official from the Department of Defense as saying, that the U.S. Navy is expanding its presence in the Mediterranean with a fourth cruise missile ship, the USS Mahan. All four of the Navy´s cruise missile ships are capable of launching long-range, subsonic cruise missiles against targets on land.
The White House meeting today was arranged after reports about an alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria were disseminated via the strongly anti-Syria biased Al-Arabiya and Al-Jazeera TV Channels on Wednesday 21 August.
Simultaneously with the dissemination of the reports about the attack, which according to various sources is alleged to have killed dozens, hundreds, and according to Al-Arabiya 1.188, the “Opposition” began distributing “Handout Images” to the international media and unverified video footage began being disseminated via YouTube and social media.
The reports emerged while the forces of the Syrian Arab Army were carrying out operations against a stronghold of one the brigades of the foreign-backed opposition in the area. The General Command of Syria´s Armed forces and the Syrian government however, have rejected the claims that the Syrian Arab Army should have used chemical weapons. The reports about the alleged attack were disseminated on the same day, when UN inspectors arrived in Syria on invitation of the Syrian government.
The Swedish expert scientist for the United Nations, Ake Sellstrom, who arrived in Damascus on the day of the alleged attack, stated to the TT news agency that:
While he had seen TV footage, the large number of casualties, which is being reported, sounds suspicious. Sellstrom said: “It sounds like something that should be looked into. It will depend on whether any UN member state goes to the secretary general and says we should look at this event. We are in place”.
nsnbc international consulted with members of the Danish Civil Defense who are trained to conduct rescue operations during or after ABC (atomic, biological, chemical) attacks. Both of the experts were presented with the handout images which had been distributed by the opposition. On condition of anonymity, because they could not make official statements on behalf of the Danish Civil Defense Forces, both of the experts unanimously stated that the likelihood that the photos had been taken during or after a real chemical weapons attack was close to zero, if not zero.
One of the two experts went as far as to say, that it is not even a well-staged falsification. Both of the experts pointed out that the medical staff, shown in the images, does not wear gloves, does not wear protective suits, and does not protect their airways. Hospital images prompted one of the experts to expound:
“It is not even likely that this is a real medical team that is alleged to treat chemical weapons victims. Every nurse knows that you have to protect yourself in order not to become the next who will have to be hospitalized. Or maybe the images are real but presented within a false context”.
While the Obama administration and President Obama, at numerous occasions have warned against the USA being drawn into another costly, expensive and difficult war, cruise missile attacks could, as it was the case during the strikes against the Libyan military in 2011, give the foreign-backed opposition a significant strategic advantage while the USA, at least officially, does not have “boots on the ground”.
At least not officially, because the USA has, according to testimony nsnbc international received from an officer with the Special Forces at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina in August 2011, had special forces operating in Syria since 2011. In June 2012 the presence of Special Forces was corroborated when a ranking member of the UK´s Department of Defense stated to the British newspaper The Daily Star, that British and other allied Special Forces were operating in Syria.
A report, published on nsnbc international on 7 July forecast, that the foreign-backed Syrian political and military opposition was planning a renewed, major political and military campaign against Syria in August and September 2013. The campaign in August and September should lead to situations which would apparently justify renewed calls for humanitarian corridors, a no-fly-zone and a military intervention.
Earlier this month, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Dempsey visited Jordan for talks. On the agenda in Jordan was, among other the “Team Jordan”. The DoD informs, that “The team Jordan also includes liaison officers linking them to the services, special operation forces, the U.S. Embassy in Jordan, USAID, Britain, Canada and France. Its primary focus is planning for Syria”.
In the aforementioned report from 7 July, nsnbc international reported, that US Special Forces in Jordan are, according to a Palestinian intelligence source, training “rebels” to carry out joint operations with US troops.
Among others, the rebels are reportedly being trained in highlighting high profile political and military targets and otherwise assist in and cooperate with US military forces against high profile political and military targets in Syria.
The deployment of the fourth cruise missile ship, the USS Mahn, closer to Syria or within striking range is a considerable escalation of the United States military posture and increases the likelihood of US strikes against targets in Syria.
Prior to the news about the White House meeting today, in response to the alleged chemical weapons attack on Wednesday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry stressed the importance of an objective investigation into the alleged attack and requested that the UN Chemical Weapons Inspectors who are currently in Syria on invitation of the Syrian government fully cooperate with the Syrian authorities and maintain an objective stance.
One of the problems with an investigation into the alleged attack is, that the area where the attack is alleged to have happened is being held by opposition forces, who so far have not provided any guarantees for safe passage and the safety of the UN inspectors.
Subsequent to the alleged attack on Wednesday, during a phone call between Russia´s Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, both stressed the importance of an objective investigation into the alleged attack. The deployment of the USS Mahn and implicit threats of a US attack on Syria with cruise missiles significantly increases the risk for an escalation of the war in Syria. US cruise missile strikes against targets in Syria are likely to provoke a swift military response from Hezbollah and Iran, and could draw Russian troops into direct combat operations against US targets.
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