AntiWar.com & Russia Today – 2012-12-10 00:28:10
Pentagon Mulls Options for Attacking Syria
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(December 7, 2012) — Despite the extremely speculative nature of the Syrian “threat,” the Pentagon is wasting no time in scrambling to prepare a set of options for different possible ways in which the United States could invade Syria.
Several different plans are under consideration, including the full-on occupation of Syria which officials estimate would require 75,000 troops just for securing chemical weapons, and many tens of thousands more for the open-ended “peacekeeping” operation certain to follow.
Officials say that the US has “everything they need” in the region already to carry out the attack the moment the president approves it, but this appears at the moment to be a few hundred ground troops waiting at the border and some naval assets off the coast, while the bulk of the occupation force would seemingly have to come from elsewhere.
The US appears to be the primary source of both the war rhetoric and the rumors of chemical weapons threats being used as an excuse for the rhetoric. The Obama Administration has been reluctant to directly insinuate itself into the ongoing civil war ahead of the elections, but has reportedly gotten more eager to involve itself since winning reelection.
‘No Confirmed Reports’ Syrian Govt.
Preparing to Use Chemical Weapons — UN Chief
(December 7, 2012) — UN chief Ban Ki-moon has said there are no confirmed reports that Damascus is preparing to use chemical weapons in the ongoing Syrian conflict. The statement comes amid speculation that loyalist forces are loading deadly nerve gas into aerial bombs.
“Recently we have been receiving alarming news that the Syrian government may be preparing to use chemical weapons. We have no confirmed reports on this matter,” Secretary-General Ban said while visiting Syrian refugee camps in Turkey on Friday, as Haaretz daily quotes him.
Ban stressed it would nevertheless be an “outrageous crime” with wide-reaching consequences if the Syrian government used chemical weapons against civilians.
This week, NBC reported that the Syrian military has loaded the deadly nerve gas Sarin into aerial bombs, which could then be dropped on rebels from Mig-23 or Sukhoi-24 aircraft.
ABC News also quoted unnamed American officials as saying that so far, the bombs have not been loaded onto planes. Over the last 48 hours, no major movement has been reported at Syria’s chemical weapons sites.
The news prompted comments from Washington, with US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton reiterating that the use of chemical weapons would be crossing “a red line.”
Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile became a topic of international concern this past July. Syria is reportedly in possession of nerve agents, including mustard gas, as well as the Scud missiles needed to deliver them. The country is one of six states that have not signed the Chemical Weapons Convention, which outlaws their production.
Since July, President Bashar Assad’s government has repeatedly stated that chemical weapons will not be used on Syria, but he also has not excluded the possibility they might be deployed in the event of “a foreign attack.”
Both Moscow and Washington condemned the possible use of chemical weapons.
The proliferation or use of chemical weapons is “unacceptable” to Russia, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said on numerous occasions. Moscow has been pressing Damascus for regular guarantees its chemical weapons stockpiles have not been moved, are properly guarded and will not be used in any conflict.
US President Barack Obama has also warned Assad that if he makes “the tragic mistake of using these weapons, there will be consequences” and he “will be held accountable.”
Washington is worried that Syria’s chemical weapons might fall into the hands of the Syrian rebels, some of whom have links to Al-Qaeda, Secretary of State Clinton said.
“Our concerns are that an increasingly desperate Assad regime might turn to chemical weapons or might lose control of them to one of the many groups that are operating within Syria,” Clinton told reporters on Wednesday.
But critics say, Washington’s continuous claims of Syrian preparations of chemical weapons are based on strategy, not real concerns. The situation in Syria is akin to the war in Iraq, Ibrahim Alloush of the Zaytouneh University in Jordan told RT.
“The purpose of drumming up these allegations about Syrians attempting or pondering the usage of chemical weapons is either to justify a military intervention directly in Syria, or to justify arming the rebels with qualitatively better weaponry, especially anti-aircraft missiles. Or, if things came to a political settlement, to impose the presence of international monitors, which should be in the best interests of Israel,” Alloush said.
The recognition of the Syrian opposition as the sole legitimate voice of the Syrian people is another “blatant” attempt on behalf of Western powers to further destabilize the Syrian government, Alloush told RT. The consequences of the Assad government’s dissolution could be dire, he added.
“The US and the NATO are trying to circumvent the legitimate process that has to take place through international law. They’re trying to bring about the change within Syria like they did in Iraq, or Libya, by undermining the legitimate government and bringing about chaos, fragmentation, bloodshed, civil war instead. It would be another Iraq — but on a larger regional scale,” he warned.
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Thousands of US Troops Arrive Near
Syrian Shore on USS Eisenhower
(December 8, 2012) — The USS Eisenhower, an American aircraft carrier that holds eight fighter bomber squadrons and 8,000 men, arrived at the Syrian coast yesterday in the midst of a heavy storm, indicating US preparation for a potential ground intervention.
While the Obama administration has not announced any sort of American-led military intervention in the war-torn country, the US is now ready to launch such action “within days” if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad decides to use chemical weapons against the opposition, the Times reports.
Some have suggested that the Assad regime may use chemical weapons against the opposition fighters in the coming days or weeks.
The arrival of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, one of the 11 US Navy aircraft carriers that has the capacity to hold thousands of men, is now stationed at the coast of Syria, DEBKAfile reports. The aircraft carrier joined the USS Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group, which holds about 2,500 Marines.
“We have (US) special operations forces at the right posture, they don’t have to be sent,” an unnamed US official told The Australian, which suggested that US military troops are already near Syria and ready to intervene in the conflict, if necessary.
If the US decides to intervene militarily in Syria, it now has at its disposal 10,000 fighting men, 17 warships, 70 fighter-bombers, 10 destroyers and frigates and a guided military cruises. Some of the vessels are also equipped with Aegis missile interceptors to shoot down any missiles Syria might have at hand, according to DEBKAfile.
“The muscle is already there to be flexed,” a US official told the London Times about the US military’s presence outside of Syria. “It’s premature to say what could happen if a decision is made to intervene. That hasn’t taken shape, we’ve not reached that kind of decision. There are a lot of options, but it [military action] could be launched rapidly, within days.”
The move comes after NATO made a significant strategic decision Tuesday to deploy Patriot Air and Missile Defense Systems in Turkey on the border of Syria where opposition groups have the stronghold.
The defense would be able to protect Turkey from potential Syrian missiles that could contain chemical weapons, as well as intimidate Syrian Air Force pilots from bombing the northern Syria border towns, which the armed rebels control. Syria is thought to have about 700 missiles.
“The protection from NATO will be three dimensional; one is the short-range Patriots, the second is the middle-range Terminal High Altitude Air Defense [THAD] system and the last is the AEGIS system, which counters missiles that can reach outside the atmosphere,” Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said.
DEBKAfile’s anonymous military sources claim the THAD and Aegis arrived at the Syrian coast aboard the USS Eisenhower.
“The United States now stands ready for direct military intervention in the Syrian conflict when the weather permits,” the news source wrote.
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