Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Salisbury CW Attack / Syrian CW Attack (44)

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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Russia’s departure into an alternate reality continues, with UK OPCW Ambassador Wilson’s observation being more widely applicable to the Russian information campaign(s): “To date, Russia has proposed more than 30 contradictory and changing fantasies to explain the Salisbury attack. Russia’s actions to confuse and distract have not worked, but instead, show how hard they are working to hide the truth.” – Russia creates and tries to maintain an alternate reality for its domestic audience and its little helpers in the West. Orwell’s Ministry of Truth was modeled on the Soviets, and today’s Russia does as much as it can to exploit both the Stalinist and Goebbelsian legacies. Lavrov arguing for S-300P deliveries to Assad. Interesting propaganda video on Assad’s SAM systems – only the two post-Soviet systems could be considered credible against an LACM. Russians reject US-CERT report on hacking, and initiate campaigns against Facebook, Google, and Amazon, following Telegram – no matter what this will cost Russia. Fascinating tirade by Akopov against the “Anglo-Saxons” – Russia’s alternate reality runs deep.

The OPCW meets and the UK position is supported. In the UK, the communications regulator Ofcom launches seven inquiries into RT’s breaches of the Section 5 impartiality requirement for broadcasters – they should never have been issued a license in the first place. More on Salisbury cleanup, and numerous related media reports.

Much on Syria. Pfeffer’s OpEd in Haaretz is on target – Russia simply lacks the weight of numbers to be credible and lacks the resources to overcome this limitation. Multiple concurrent arguments in the US over Syria and Russia policy – no surprises here, Russia has survived the last four years mostly due to prior divisions in the West, to which Russia is incidental. US and Saudis working on forming an Arab intervention force for Syria. Most interesting reports on how Iran deployed a Russian supplied Tor M1 / SA-15 GAUNTLET SAM system to Syria, and the Israelis bombed it before it could be activated. Concerns in Israel about the possible supply of Russian S-300PS/PM/PM2 SA-10/20 GRUMBLE/GARGOYLE to Syria – well justified as these are highly capable assets and much more difficult to defeat than the ancient 1970s systems that form most of Syria’s air defenses. Multiple articles on the potential for a direct conflict between Israel and Iran in Syria – unless Iran is given overwhelming incentives to depart Syria, this is the most likely outcome.

UK destroys evidence in Skripal case, posing it as disinfection, – Russian embassy –

Russia accused the British government of destroying the evidence in the case of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, posing this action as the necessary disinfection. This was mentioned during the briefing of the Russian embassy. The Russian side doubts whether the nerve agent used in the attack does not vaporize or disappears with the time – as well as the statement that it needs disinfection for complete removal. ‘We have carefully studied the DEFRA statement saying that decontamination of the nine allegedly contaminated sites in Salisbury has begun. We could not help but notice that the list of such places had considerably expanded. In addition to the previously mentioned “Zizzi” restaurant, the “Mill” pub, the bench where Sergei and Yulia Skripal were found unconscious and the house of Sergei Skripal now ambulance stations and the house of Sgt Nick Bailey are among them. In this regard, the question arises: why has none of the Salisbury residents, except for the three victims, had symptoms of poisoning by a nerve agent, which, according to British experts, has been in public places all this time and which does not evaporate”, “does not disappear over time” and must now be removed using special chemicals? If these statements are true, it is completely unclear how Sgt Bailey, who returned to his own home after leaving the hospital, was not again exposed. Moreover, all this time the British authorities have continued to assure the inhabitants of Salisbury that their risks are very low. These obvious inconsistencies lead us to believe that the so-called decontamination, which includes “incinerating of potentially contaminated objects”, is an element of the strategy aiming to destroy the important and valuable evidence. A similar approach has already been used in the case of putting down Mr Skripal’s pet animals. In other words, this flagrant violation of the norms of international law by the UK is intended to cover up the evidence of the staged provocation against Russia’, the statement said.

Russian military reports discovery of chemical weapon facility in Douma –

Syrian militants had a lab in Douma where they possibly manufactured chemical weapons. Russia’s Defense Ministry reported that as quoted by Interfax news agency. ‘During the inspection in the city of Douma, we spotted a chemical laboratory and the stock of chemicals’, Aleksandr Rodionov, the spokesman of Russia’s NBC protection troops said (NBC, – Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Protection, – 112 International). ‘The experts found there certain chemical substances that are banned by the Chemical Weapons Convention’, Rodionov said, adding that some of the substances are used to produce sulfur and nitrogen mustard gas. ‘Besides, we found a high-pressure cylinder with chlorine… one can conclude that mentioned lab was used by the illegal armed formations to manufacture the poisonous agents’, the official claimed. As it was reported earlier, the armed forces of the U.S., Britain and France launched airstrikes at several targets in Syria, which are connected with the development and use of chemical weapon. Syrian mass media reported six injured. The airstrikes were the response to the use of chemical weapon in Douma (Syria), when 70 people died as a result. The West accused Bashar Assad, the President of Syria, and Russia.

Lavrov: United States wants to punish thousands of Russians with new sanctions

The US is trying to “create problems for hundreds of thousands of Russians” by introducing more sanctions, Foreign Minister of Russia Sergey Lavrov stated in an interview with the BBC in response to new possible restrictions against Russia. “They [the US] declare that they will never harm ordinary people—only oligarchs, politicians and the military, which supposedly destabilizes the world. This is a lie,” stated the Russian Foreign Minister. According to Lavrov, Washington “does not just threaten to punish those who have any connection with the Syrian government, [but] wants to punish Russian citizens for making the ‘wrong’ choice in the presidential election.” The BBC interviewer noted that following the latest sanctions imposed by the US on April 6, the Russian stock market decreased by 10% and the ruble fell against dollar. These actions, according to the interviewer, “cornered Russia.” In response, the Russian minister stated: “Do not worry for Russia; we’ll somehow hold out.” Earlier, Putin’s Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov expressed his opinion that the introduction of sanctions by the US “can be recognized as an obsession.” “Any economist can easily see that in a number of sanctions, competitors are attempting to drive Russian companies out of international markets,” said Peskov Peskov expressed that the possible restrictions “cannot be a result of the situation in Syria or something else.” He stressed that these sanctions are “nothing more than international economic raiding.”

Lavrov reaffirms Russia’s intention to supply Syria with S-300 missile systems

In an interview with the BBC television channel, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Russia was ready to consider all necessary steps to strengthen the security of Syria after the Western coalition strike. “President Putin addressed this issue [regarding the S-300 delivery]. And he clearly reminded [us] that few years ago, at the request of our partners, we decided not to supply the S-300 to Syria,” Lavrov said. Russia now intends to reconsider the option of delivering the S-300s after the “outrageous act of aggression” by the United States, France and Britain, the Minister said. On Saturday, April 14, the Chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the Russian General Staff, Colonel General Sergei Rudskoy, said that Russia could reconsider the topic of S-300 SAM deliveries to Syria and other countries. “It is to be stressed that several years ago given the strong request by our western partners, Russia opted out of supplying the S-300 air defense systems to Syria,” Rudskoy noted. The General Staff statement was released on the same day that the United States, Great Britain and France struck Syria.

False alarm causes Syrian defense missiles to fire

Syrian media reported Tuesday that the country’s military thwarted a missile attack and blamed the incident on “outside aggression” — before admitting…

Syria Returns Fire In Non-Existent Attack | The Daily Caller

Syrian air defense forces opened fire in the middle of the night Tuesday to repel a non-existent attack later said to be a “false alarm.” An unidentified foreign power had launched a strike on Shayrat Air Base — the military airfield in Homs the U.S. struck with dozens of Tomahawk missiles in the aftermath of a deadly Sarin gas attack on civilians, Syrian state media initially reported. However, while Syrian forces fired multiple air defense missiles, no attack actually took place, later reports revealed. “There was no foreign assault on Syria,” Syrian state media, which had previously released photos of missiles over the air base, reported. The confusion during the false alarm highlights growing concerns of escalation in the wake of a U.S.-led coalition strike on Syria’s chemical weapons infrastructure Saturday and an April 9 strike on an air base Israel is believed to have carried out. While the U.S. and its international partners punish Syria for its use of chemical weapons against civilians, Israel is increasingly concerned about Iranian operations in Syria.

FALSE ALARM: No New Missile Attack On Syrian Air Defenses, Pro-Assad Commander Says | HuffPost

The commander attributed the malfunction to “a joint electronic attack” by Israel and the U.S. targeting the Syrian radar system.

Syria’s air defence system ‘malfunction’ causes confusion – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

An electronic attack is one of a handful of reasons being given for a false alarm that saw Syria’s air defence system kick into action, after initial reports claimed the country had been hit by more missile strikes.

Missile attack report was a ‘false alarm’ – Syrian state TV

State TV had earlier claimed missiles had targeted two airbases in Homs and Damascus, in what it called “a new “aggression”.

VIDEO: Syrian Air Defense Force shows off interception systems used to repel US-led missile attack on Syria

BEIRUT, LEBANON (7:15 P.M.) – The Syrian Ministry of Defense (MoD) has released a brief promotion video (below) showcasing some of the anti-aircraft systems that were used to counter a barrage of over one hundred cruise missiles fired at Syria by the United States, Britain and France on April 14. The video demonstrates the operation of a number of anti-aircraft systems by the Syrian Air Defense Force including Buk-M, Pantsir-S1, S-125 ‘Pechora’, SA-6 ‘Kub’ and ZSU-23-4 ‘Shilka’. Furthermore, the video also showcases a very quick view of the P-15 early warning radar system. Going by official Russian military accounts, the US-led missile attack against government sites on April 14 saw Syrian air defenses down about 70 percent of all incoming cruise missiles.

Russia denies ‘feeble’ US, UK charges of internet tampering – ABC News

Get breaking national and world news, broadcast video coverage, and exclusive interviews. Find the top news online at ABC news.

Russia can block Facebook if it does not fulfill Roskomnadzor demands –

The localization of the data bases of the Russian citizens in the territory of Russia and deleting of all forbidden information are among them. Aleksandr Zharov, the Head of Roskomnadzor claimed that Facebook can be blocked in Russia if the social network will not fulfill the demands of the service as Izvestia reported. ‘Until the end of 2018 we will check the companies and there are a few points that should be fulfilled: localization of the data bases of the Russian citizens in the territory of Russia, deleting of all forbidden information and compliance with other laws’, he said. According to Zharov, if these demands are not fulfilled, the question on the blocking will rise. ‘I meet the Facebook representative once in six months. There are no special relations, during our last meeting in February we discussed our position once more’, he said. On April 6, Roskomnadzor filed the lawsuit on the blocking of Telegram in Russia. Earlier, the ultimatum put forward by Roskomnadzor to Telegram ended. Roskomnadzor threatened with the trial if Telegram would not pass the encryption keys to the FSB. On April 13, the court in Moscow ruled to satisfy the lawsuit of Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media or Roskomnadzor and block Telegram in the territory of Russia.

Russia’s War on Telegram Expands to Google, Amazon Battlefields – Bloomberg

Russia’s attempts to ban access to the Telegram messaging service threaten to drag U.S. tech giants including Alphabet Inc. and Inc. into the war with founder Pavel Durov as he turns to proxy servers to bypass the blocking measures.

Amazon, Google and Facebook All Face Pressure in Russia – Bloomberg

Russian censors are going after Telegram, but the pressure is on Amazon, Google and Facebook too.

Goodbye, America: Russia sanctions could hit US medical, tech industries –

Author : Deutsche Welle Rare earth metals, medication and software: Russia’s strongest response yet to United States sanctions is taking shape. Now, Washington and its Western allies are in the crosshairs. The cult 1985 song, “Goodbye, America,” by the Soviet rock band, Nautilus Pompilius, was a melancholic tune from the pro-Western Perestroika generation that cast off American mythology: “Your worn jeans have become too small for me. We’ve been taught for so long to love your forbidden fruit.” These lyrics could describe the draft legislation that has come before an emergency meeting of Russia’s upper house of parliament. In a show of solidarity, the draft was introduced last week by Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin along with the heads of the parliament’s four factions. It serves as Russia’s answer to US sanctions from April 6, which are the most severe since the annexation of Crimea in 2014. Targeting top Russian companies and public officials, the sanctions take aim at Russia’s stock and currency exchanges for what the US calls Russia’s “malicious activities” around the world, including in Ukraine and Syria. Tree bark for medication? Russia’s reaction forms a legal basis for tit-for-tat sanctions, stemming from the US Congress’s passing of CAATSA (Countering Americas’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act) in the summer of 2017. US-Russia trade is not particularly large: $24 billion (€19 billion) in 2017, according to Russian state news agency RIA, with $17 billion of Russian goods and services sold to the US and $7 billion sold to Russia. That makes it difficult for Russia to hurt the US with sanctions. The draft legislation proposes restrictions on US agricultural, food, alcohol, tobacco and medical imports. Medication for which there is no Russian replacement would be exempt. A Russian parliamentarian caused a stir when he suggested on a talk show that Russians try tree bark or shrubbery as an alternative to US-produced medicine. It was meant to be a joke, he said. Boeing and Microsoft likely to be impacted The sanctions bill also threatens to end US-Russian cooperation in the fields of atomic energy, aircraft production and rocket systems. That could affect Boeing, which imports titanium from Russia. An end to sales of rare earth metals could cause trouble for private US space companies, such as United Launch Alliance (ULA), a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin. ULA’s Atlas V rocket uses the Russian RD-180 engine. The US Congress has already that requested the country’s aerospace sector stop buying Russian-made engines following the Crimea annexation, but lacking alternatives, sales continued.

The TV vs the fridge: A Russian joke shows why Putin’s propaganda isn’t working on his own people – To Inform is to Influence

Alexandra Ma Ordinary Russians joke that watching Putin’s propaganda is like seeing a “battle between the TV set and the fridge.” The idea is that the Kremlin keeps lauding Russia’s greatness on TV, while fridges remain empty because the country’s economy is so bad. Olga Ivshina, a BBC journalist in Russia, repeated the joke while…

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Can Russia have Allies? Yes and No, Moscow Commentator Says

Paul Goble Staunton, April 17 – Stung by American suggestions that Russia has no friends or allies in the world at present, Russian commentators have responded angrily but with comments that underscore rather than challenge those suggestions, perhaps no surprise from representatives of a country whose leaders often say Russia has “only two allies, its army and its fleet.” Among the most instructive of these Russian responses is one by Vzglyad writer Pyotr Akopov who asks rhetorically “Can Russia have allies?” and answers “both yes and no.” Now, he says, “if one speaks about historical time and not simply about 2018, our interests objectively correspond with the interests of the overwhelming majority of humanity.” That amounts to billions of people even if this is not reflected in the voting of the governments of these countries at the United Nations, a product of the fact, Akopov continues, that Russia is on ‘the right side of history,’ if one uses the terminology of these same Anglo-Saxons” ( “Our goal,” the Russian commentator continues, “a multi-polar, multi-civilizational world, corresponds with the goal which all major centers of power in the world have. Not just China, India, and Iran but also those formally pro-Western countries like Japan and Turkey, Brazil and Saudi Arabia. “Does Turkey have allies? Japan? Germany? Iran? Of course not, they have either partners or bosses.” “For example, Germany is simultaneously a dependent country and a spokesman of he European Union. It has a hegemon, the US, from which it wants to free itself but still doesn’t have enough strength to do so.” It has “situational partners” and it has countries in the EU and NATO which are “formally called allies but in essence are vassals.” According to Akopov, “Russia can be an ally with countries equal in strength to itself – with China, India or with those like Turkey and Iran who are equal to us in geopolitical will and strength. In some theoretical situation in the future, it could be with Germany and Japan if they acquire real independence.” In that event, they would be allies with Russia “not in the sense of ‘against someone else,’ but allies based on striving for common or similar goals,” geopolitical, regional, ideological, economic, and so on. “Not one great power wants to become dependent on another; each wants to answer only for itself.” “Russia,” Akpokov says, “which combines in itself a unique historical experience of creating the most powerful Eurasian state with enormous natural resources and a passionate people, who has the will and spirit for creation and does not have the hypocrisy, racism and greed of western colonizers, already is a center of attraction for the most varied forces in the world.” But nonetheless, “our chief and unique ally is ourselves.” The more independent and self-sufficient Russia is, “the easier it will be for us in this multi-faceted world” and the more supporters it will attract among those who “value our main quality: a desire and ability to secure for each people life according to its own values and ideas.”

Propaganda wars

TheTribune: It was striking that British Prime Minister Theresa May was first off the blocks early on Saturday morning to offer a meandering justification for her decision to join America and France in bombing Syria for a chemical weapons attack on Douma they blame on the Syrian regime.

OPCW rejects Russian claims of second Salisbury nerve agent | UK news | The Guardian

Canadian envoy to chemical weapons watchdog condemns ‘craven attempt to mislead international community’

THE HAGUE, Netherlands | OPCW chief rejects Russia claim of 2nd Salisbury nerve agent | STL.News

THE HAGUE, Netherlands | OPCW chief rejects Russia claim of 2nd Salisbury nerve agent – By STL News – THE HAGUE, Netherlands  | April 18, 2018 (AP)(STL.News)  The head of the global chemical watchdog agency has rejected Russian claims that traces of a secon

Russian spy: Skripal poison case focus for watchdog meeting – BBC News

Russian and UK representatives are due to talk about the independent analysis of the substance used. The poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal will be discussed at a meeting of the global chemical weapons watchdog later. A report by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons on the toxic substance used in Salisbury confirmed the UK’s analysis of the type of nerve agent involved. The UK says Russia was behind the attack, but Moscow denies involvement. The meeting in the Netherlands will give Russia and the UK a platform to build their international support. OPCW’s summary report, released earlier this month, did not name the nerve agent as Novichok, but said it agreed with the UK’s findings on its identity. It does identify the toxic chemical by its complex formula, but only in the classified report that has not been made public.

UK says attack on ex-Russian spy Skripal undercuts chemical weapons ban | News | DW | 18.04.2018

The UK’s OPCW representative said Russia “attacked the reputation” of the OPCW chemical weapons watchdog. It comes after an OPCW report confirmed UK findings on the chemical used in the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy.

UK accuses Russia of creating ‘fantasies’ over Salisbury attack as Ofcom launches investigation into RT | The Independent

Britain has accused Russia of creating “fantasies” around the nerve agent attack in Salisbury as the broadcasting watchdog investigates its state broadcaster over impartiality. Ofcom has opened seven probes into news and current affairs shows including two hosted by former MP George Galloway on Russia Today (RT), which is owned by state media arm TV Novosti.

Ofcom opens seven new investigations into impartiality of RT – TVBEurope

Regulator says it has seen a “significant increase” in programmes warranting investigation since the incident in Salisbury

UK regulator probes Russia’s RT channel over impartiality

Britain’s broadcasting watchdog on Wednesday opened seven impartiality probes concerning Russia’s RT news channel, noting “a significant increase” in programmes warranting investigation since the poisoning of a former Russian spy in March. “Ofcom has today opened seven new investigations

The British TV Regulator Just Announced Seven Investigations Into Russia Today Over Its Spy Poisoning Coverage

Ofcom will decide whether the network is “fit and proper” to continue broadcasting in the UK in the wake of the Salisbury poisoning case.

U.K. Agency Probes Russian News Channel Coverage After Poisoning – Bloomberg

The U.K.’s media watchdog is investigating whether the Kremlin-backed RT news channel was biased in its coverage after the poisoning of a former spy in the British city of Salisbury.

The British TV Regulator Just Announced Seven Investigations Into Russia Today Over Its Spy Poisoning Coverage

Ofcom will decide whether the network is “fit and proper” to continue broadcasting in the UK in the wake of the Salisbury poisoning case.

Russia’s state propaganda station RT faces SEVEN new probes for breaching TV code after Salisbury poisoning

Media regulator Ofcom said it had today opened several investigations into the impartiality of news and current affairs programmes on the channel

Every Blade of Grass Tainted by Novichok Nerve Agent to Be Incinerated in Massive Cleanup by UK

Officials from Britain and Russia are still fighting over who exactly poisoned former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia with the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok. But whoever did it, one thing is certain: The cleanup is costing a lot of money and labor as the UK combs through every blade of grass that might have been contaminated.

The NINE Salisbury sites still contaminated by Skripal spy poison as experts say it will take MONTHS to clear-up

Among the sites are the restaurant where the pair dined on the night they were attacked and the park where both were found slumped on a bench

Skripal Attack Used ‘Very Small Amount’ of Liquid Poison, U.K. Says – The New York Times

Environmental scientists are planning a monthslong decontamination process in Salisbury, England, where a Russian former spy and his daughter were poisoned.

Deadly nerve agent used to poison Sergei Skripal was in ‘liquid form’ | UK | News |

THE DEADLY nerve agent used to poison Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury has been identified at NINE other sites in the city.

How ex Russian spy Sergei Skripal and Yulia were poisoned in Salisbury | Daily Star

SHOCK findings have revealed the nerve agent used to poison a former Russian spy and his daughter was delivered in a “liquid form”.

Skripal relative denies contact with security services

Viktoria Skripal, a relative of poisoned ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, denied having links to security services in an interview to Russian media on Tuesday.

UK Government Overlooks Russian Mob’s Use of Novichok for Assassination

An alternative explanation to the mystery surrounding the poisoning of Russian double-agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter may involve a possibility that neither the British nor Russian governments want to talk about., Ivan Kivelidi, Novichok, Russia, Salisbury, Sergei Skripal, United Kingdom, Yulia Skripal,

EU Lawmakers Call For World Cup Boycott

Dozens of members of the European Parliament have signed a letter calling on EU governments to boycott the soccer World Cup tournament in Russia this summer, citing President Vladimir Putin’s “mo…

Like it or not, Russia and the UK need each other – and will have to talk | Andrey Kortunov and Malcolm Chalmers | Opinion | The Guardian

In the light of the Skripal case, and Syria, cooperation is more vital than ever. The alternatives are unthinkable, say Andrey Kortunov of the Russian International Affairs Council and Malcolm Chalmers of the Royal United Services Institute

Russia Tells Its Study-Abroad Students: It’s Time To Come Home

A Russian government agency wants Russians studying abroad to come home.

After the debates on Syria and antisemitism, Labour is now two parties – and the split could be coming soon | The Independent

Labour is two parties now. The pretence that Jeremy Corbyn and his centrist MPs belong in the same one has been shattered by recent events. While the spotlight was on domestic policy and Brexit, Labour’s two tribes just about held it together. Some Corbynsceptics even acknowledged they had got him wrong after his brilliant performance at the general election, called a year ago today.

Putin Still Wants Deal With Trump, Even After Sanctions, Syria Attack – Bloomberg

After U.S. sanctions crippled an entire Russian industry and air strikes in Syria threatened the first direct clash between nuclear superpowers since the Cold War, Vladimir Putin is seeking to dial down the tension.

Anshel Pfeffer | Putin’s bluff is finally being called and Russia is running out of options in Syria – Syria –

After proving powerless to prevent the airstrikes on the Assad regime, how can Putin restore deterrence? Until now, Putin has had one major advantage in Syria: His was the only country, besides Iran, that was prepared to deploy its own significant contingent. In the vacuum left by then-President Barack Obama’s decision not to get involved in the Syrian war, beyond a belated air campaign against the Islamic State, Russia’s intervention was decisive. But now the bubble in which Russia has been operating has been punctured again and again. When it was only Israel doing so, in pinpoint attacks on Hezbollah and Iranian targets (according to foreign sources), it was one thing. Israel rarely acknowledges its attacks and has an efficient “deconfliction” process with the Russian headquarters at the Khmeimim air base. Russia’s appearance of omnipotence in the Syrian arena has been shattered. Appearances of power count for a lot in this region.

U.S. Holds Back on New Russia Sanctions – WSJ

White House officials said U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley spoke prematurely in saying the Trump administration would imminently impose new sanctions on Russia over its support for the Assad regime in Syria.

Trump’s UN Ambassador Hits Back Over Russia Sanctions ‘Confusion’

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations is pushing back against a suggestion by President Donald Trump’s chief economic adviser that she was confused over possible new sanctions targeting Russia.

‘I Don’t Get Confused,’ Nikki Haley Says, Rebuffing White House in Sanctions Dispute – The New York Times

Ms. Haley, the ambassador to the United Nations, rejected the idea that she might have had “momentary confusion” when she said new sanctions against Russia were imminent.

Nikki Haley’s savage own of Larry Kudlow is one for the ages – CNNPolitics

Nikki Haley is not to be trifled with — especially by the likes of a TV anchor-turned-newly-minted White House aide.

Trump adviser apologizes for calling Nikki Haley confused about Russia sanctions amid White House tiff | The Japan Times

The new White House economic adviser apologized Tuesday to U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley after suggesting she was suffering from “momentary confusion” when s

Haley fires back at White House: ‘I don’t get confused’ | TheHill

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley hit back at the White House on Tuesday, denying a top adviser’s claim that she was confused when she said the administration would impose new sanctions on Russia.

Majority supports Syrian airstrikes – POLITICO

But very few think the strikes will stop Syria’s regime from using chemical weapons again.

Iranian-Backed Militias Set Sights on U.S. Forces – Foreign Policy

Airstrikes against Syria may galvanize support against the United States.

Ambassador Haley Says Containing Iran Top Priority

London, 17 Apr – “We want to make sure that the influence of Iran doesn’t take over the area,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said in an April 15 appearance on CBS’ Face The Nation, “They continue to cause problems throughout the region, and we want to make sure that there is a hold.” She outlined the Trump administration’s three goals in Syria: 1. Ban on the use of chemical weapons 2. Fully defeat ISIS 3. Prevent Iran from “taking over the area” Insisting that there is no fixed date for the return of US troops from Syria, Haley said, “We haven’t said that we’re going to bring them home in six months. What we are saying is at some point we want to see our military come home.” Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that President Donald Trump “has been clear that he wants U.S. forces to come home as quickly as possible.” Although not conflicting, these two statements project a sense among observers is that Trump is uncomfortable forecasting U.S. power on the ground in Syria. Air strikes have a limited effect in the war-torn country, and a total withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria would be a great concern to Israel, in that it could create a power vacuum in Syria for Iran to expand its influence.

Senators concerned about Trump policy on Syria – CNNPolitics

Lawmakers emerged from a classified administration briefing expressing concern about administration policy on Syria and the legal justification for last week’s military strikes against the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

The Backlash Against Trump’s Syria Strike – The Atlantic

Members of Congress in both parties have declared his actions unconstitutional. Will Democrats campaign against their illegality?

Mattis Wanted Congressional Approval Before Striking Syria. He Was Overruled. – The New York Times

The Pentagon chief lost a battle with the White House to get congressional authorization for last week’s allied airstrikes. But he won in pushing for a limited attack.

Pentagon: No threats to US troops in Syria since strikes on Assad’s chemical weapons facilities – News – Stripes

American troops in Syria have seen no signs of threats from forces backing President Bashar Assad since U.S., Britain and France planes and ships launched more than 100 missiles over the weekend at Syrian chemical weapons facilities, a U.S. military spokesman said Tuesday.

The Aviationist » Here Are The First Photos Of The U.S. Air Force F-16C And F-15C Jets And KC-135 Tankers Returning To Aviano After Tonight’s Mission

U.S. Air Force jets provided cover to both the bombers and the warships involved in the first wave of air strikes on Syria. Here are some interesting shots of the aircraft returning home after their “escort” mission. As already explained, the “limited air strikes” launched early in the morning on Apr. 14 were supported by several tankers and also by fighter aircraft whose task was likely to cover the fighter bombers and the warships firing their Tomahawks from the eventual threat of Russian aircraft launched from Khmeimim air base, near Latakia, in western Syria. The aircraft tasked with ensuring air superiority and DCA (Defensive Counter Air) were 31FW F-16Cs, from Aviano AB, Italy, and 48FW F-15Cs, based at RAF Lakenheath but deployed alongside the Vipers at Aviano. They were supported by KC-135R tankers with the 100th ARW from RAF Mildenhall. The shots in this post, taken by photographer Claudio Tramontin outside Aviano today, show the aircraft loaded with AIM-120C AMRAAM and AIM-9X air-to-air missiles along with external fuel tanks. Interestingly, the Vipers carried also a AN/ALQ-131 ECM pod as well as the Sniper ATP (Advanced Targeting Pod). Pilots worn the JHMCS (Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing Sight).

Sen. Lindsey Graham: Trump’s Syria Strikes ‘Well Short of What’ I Would Have Liked

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told radio host Hugh Hewitt Monday that he would have liked to see more robust American intervention in Syria.

Rep. Bacon Offers Electronic Warfare Bill: ‘We’re Behind’ « Breaking Defense – Defense industry news, analysis and commentary

“We had the dominant electronic warfare capability in the world and we let it atrophy. Now we’re behind,” general turned congressman Don Bacon told me. “I want us to be dominant again. I don’t want us to be second or third best after Russia and China.”

Syria: Confusion over experts’ visit to alleged chemical attack site – CNN

More than 11 days have passed since a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria, yet it is unclear when independent investigators will gain access to the site.

U.S. Seeks Arab Force and Funding for Syria – WSJ

The Trump administration is seeking to assemble an Arab force to replace the U.S. military contingent in Syria and help stabilize the country’s northeast after the defeat of Islamic State, U.S. officials said.

Saudi Arabia says open to sending troops to Syria under wider coalition

Saudi Arabia would be prepared to send troops into Syria as part of the U.S.-led coalition if a decision was taken to widen it, Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said on Tuesday.

Bolton dealing to build an Arab military force in Syria – CNNPolitics

John Bolton and Mike Pompeo are among those spearheading a push to build a coalition of Arab military forces that could replace US troops in Syria, per sources.

Revealed: Israel ‘struck advanced Iranian air-defense system’ in Syria – Israel News –

According to Wall Street Journal report, attack drones weren’t the only target – Netanyahu conferred with Trump before ordering strike on Tor missile system at T4 base in Syria





Israel hints it could hit Iran’s ‘air force’ in Syria

Israel released details on Tuesday about what it described as an Iranian “air force” deployed in neighboring Syria, including civilian planes suspected of transferring arms, a signal that these could be attacked should tensions with Tehran escalate.

Conflicting Claims Swirl As Israel Continues Air War Against Iranian Interests In Syria – The Drive

Amid the aftermath of an America-led missile strike on the Syrian government, Israeli forces have launched a number of their own operations.

Israel Conferred With U.S. on Strike in Syria to Target Iranian War Gear – WSJ

With tacit American support, the Israeli military targeted an advanced Iranian air defense system at a Syrian base last week, according to intelligence officials and others briefed on the matter, the latest indication that the Trump administration is working with Israel to blunt Tehran’s expanding influence in the Middle East.

Media: Israel alarmed by potential delivery of Russian S-300 missile systems to Syria

Israel fears that the supply of Russian S-300 missile systems to Syria will jeopardize the “freedom of action” of the Israeli Air Force in its neighboring state, El País reports. In addition, Israel is concerned that the deployment of more modern systems in Syria could protect Damascus from “future retaliatory measures.” According to El País, Israel’s apprehension was due to an announcement by the Russian Federation that, in connection with US-led missile strikes by the western Allies, Russia plans to consider supplying S-300 systems to Syria. The publication notes that, at present, the Syrian air defense system consists of Soviet-era weapons. Nevertheless, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) are concerned that the deployment of more modern air defense systems in the country could protect Damascus from “future retaliatory measures”. In addition, Israel is also worried that the deployment of the S-300 could jeopardize the “freedom of action” of the Israeli Air Force in the neighboring state. Colonel General Sergei Rudskoy, Chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the Russian General Staff, earlier stated that Russia may reconsider the possibility of selling S-300 air defense systems to Damascus due to the missile strikes by the United States and its allies against Syria. Russia had considered such a possibility in the past but refused to sell the anti-missile systems to Syria at the beginning of the conflict due to a request of NATO countries. More advanced S-400 Russian anti-aircraft defense systems have already been deployed in Syria; these systems are designed to protect Russia’s military facilities in the Arab Republic. Russia has two military bases in Syria: a naval base in the city of Tartus and an air base in Khmeimim.







Israel warns Iran on military buildup in Syria, won’t send jets to U.S. drill

Israel has reportedly canceled plans to send warplanes to a joint military exercise with the U.S. amid concern about the buildup of Iranian forces in Syria.

Iran Threatens Israel With Revenge for Syria Airstrike That Killed Drone Commander

Tehran’s foreign ministry has warned: “Tel Aviv will be punished for its aggressive action.”

Israel warns Iran: we are ready to strike you in Syria | World | The Times

Israel released satellite images yesterday of Iranian bases in Syria, a clear warning to its old enemy as both are drawn deeper into the Syrian conflict.The Israeli military said it believed that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was planning to attack Israel in the coming days; reta

Israel’s 70th Independence Day clouded by rumbling of conflict with Iran | TheHill

Israel’s greatest adversary in the region is growing in influence, and Israelis have grown accustomed to hearing about the Iranian threat.

If America wants to hit Iran hard, go for its flabby economy – Middle East News –

The rial’s freefall shows how vulnerable the Islamic Republic’s economy is, but does Trump have patience for economic warfare?

Opinion | Are Iran and Israel Headed for Their First Direct War? – The New York Times

So far they’ve fought in the shadows, through proxies, assassination squads and cyber-virus attacks. That may be about to change.

Israel and Iran face a showdown in Syria | Comment | The Times

I have grown old waiting for the Third World War: from the autumn of 1962 to the spring of 2018, Armageddon seemed just around the corner. Last weekend was no different. Hard-wired for disaster, I waited for a US-led aerial bombardment inside Russian-controlled airspace to go horribly wrong. Instea


Arab leaders call for probe into Syria chemical attacks, condemn Iran

Arab League leaders on Sunday called for an international probe into the “criminal” use of chemical weapons in Syria and condemned what they see as Iran’s interference in the affairs of other countries.

Why does Syria still have chemical weapons? | World news | The Guardian

Despite destruction of 1,300 tonnes of declared chemical weapons, Assad regime retained capacity and willingness to replenish stockpile

US struck Syria without certainty on sarin – CNNPolitics

Even though US intelligence agencies did not have absolute certainty Syria’s regime had used the nerve agent sarin against civilians, the Trump administration still felt there was enough evidence to justify retaliatory strikes last Friday, several intelligence and defense officials tell CNN.

How Social Media Built the Case for Trump’s Strike on Syria – Foreign Policy

Evidence of chemical weapons used to require a chain of custody. Now, open-source intelligence is often enough.

Unlike Obama, Trump proves he’s determined to deter Russian aggression | Fox News

The media and Democratic politicians are painting President Trump and his administration as lapdogs for Russian President Vladimir Putin. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

Donald Trump’s claim to be the toughest president ever on Russia just collapsed – CNNPolitics

Earlier this month, President Donald Trump made a bold declaration: “Probably nobody’s been tougher on Russia than Donald Trump.”

Russia Is ‘Laughing’ At Trump, Former Ambassador to Ex-Soviet Union Says

President Donald Trump challenged Vladimir Putin in Friday’s Syria airstrikes, but the Republican leader is averse to new sanctions.

Syria airstrikes cost to US taxpayers

The final bill isn’t clear, however.

Syria Strikes, Skripal Poisoning and Other Intelligence Puzzles – Bloomberg

Citizens deserve more public facts about intelligence judgments used to justify decisions on war and peace.