Information operations · Information Warfare · Iran · Russia · Syria

Salisbury CW Attack / Syria / Iran / Russia Ad Hoc Update (131)

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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Russia’s “pre-emptive fake news” campaign over Syria and CW attacks continues, in concert with a major saber-rattling effort on multiple fronts. Some of the propaganda verges on the bizarre – a battery of the latest SA-15 GAUNTLET deployed to Hmeimim AB is being touted as important, two SSKs, and twelve surface vessels in the Med, a mix of Soviet era rustbuckets (1 x Project 1155 Udaloy, 1 x Project 1164 Slava), two light frigates (2 x 11356M Adm Grigorovitch), three corvettes (3 x Project 21631 Buyan M) and a gaggle of patrol boats and support vessels might look good in numbers, but is hardly competitive in a stand-up fight as the Russians suggest their role is to be. More interesting is the immense Vostok-2018 EX planned for coming weeks, involving the largest force package since 1981. These displays are accompanied by public statements on the possible deployment of nuclear weapons to Syria.

The propaganda machine hysteria over Syria, and the inflation of the significance of Russian capabilities deployed to the theatre suggest there is genuine fear in Muscovy that the US and Allies might act in Syria.

This incongruity between the propaganda and reality seems to be growing by the day, whilst Russians debate the deployment of a nuclear powered carrier, the Russian MoD deals with a record number of lawsuits by suppliers over unpaid bills, the economy unravels due to mismanagement and sanctions, and a disturbing report about Russian troops shooting into a crowd of rowdy civilians in Eastern Siberia goes viral on the Russian Internet. This growing incongruity between propaganda phantasms and facts suggests the regime’s alternate reality is becoming increasingly disconnected from ground truth, presenting the risk of the regime making more dangerous mistakes that will spin out of control.

UK media report on the Salisbury investigation, while Browder comments on death threats made by the Muscovian regime (or its proxies).

Multiple reports on Syria and the Russian buildup.

Pappalardo comments on IRGC “sea control”, failing to explain properly what a Hellfire or Maverick will do to any of the IRGC’s toy boats. Iran moves to impeach its President for mismanaging the economy, while the Europeans try to devise ways to bypass US sanctions.

More on Turkey’s woes, and Erdoğan’s duplicity in dealing with the duplicitous Assad.

Russia Schedules Biggest War Games In Almost 40 Years

Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has said the country is planning to hold its biggest military exercises since 1981 next month, Russian news agencies reported. Shoigu was quoted as saying on August 28 that the drills, called Vostok (East)-2018, will take place in Russia’s central and eastern military districts and will involve almost 300,000 troops, more than 1,000 aircraft, both the Pacific and Northern Fleets, and all Russian airborne units. “This is the biggest drill to take place in Russia since 1981,” Shoigu told reporters, according to the Interfax news agency. He was referring to the massive Zapad (West)-81 military exercises, which involved Soviet and other Warsaw Pact military personnel. The Vostok-2018 exercises are set to be carried out from September 11 to September 15 with the participation of Chinese and Mongolian military personnel, Russian media have reported. The maneuvers come as relations between Moscow and the West have deteriorated to a post-Cold War low over issues including Russia’s seizure of Crimea, its role in wars in Syria and eastern Ukraine, and its alleged election meddling in the United States and Europe. When asked if the cost of holding such a massive military exercise was justified, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that such war games were “essential” in the current international situation, which he said is “often aggressive and unfriendly toward our country.” Meanwhile, NATO spokesman Dylan White said that Russia had briefed the alliance on the planned drills and that the alliance planned to monitor them.

UAWire – Russia considers deploying nuclear weapons in Syria

The United States has crossed a “red line” in its relations with Russia, and the President should consider an asymmetric response – terminating the treaties with Washington on nuclear missiles, and deploying tactical nuclear weapons abroad, e.g. in Syria, stated by Vladimir Gutenev, first deputy chairman of the Russian State Duma committee on economic policy, innovative development and entrepreneurship, to TASS. According to the MP, such a step would “not only offset sanctions, but also deal counter damage”. “The pressure on Russia will only intensify – in the area of military technological collaboration, including with regard to the sale of weapons abroad. We see that the Americans are already talking about sanctions against the countries that buy Russian weapons… One should listen to the opinion of several experts, who say that, perhaps, Russia should stop complying with the treaties on the non-proliferation of missile technologies, and also follow the United States’ example and deploy its tactical nuclear weapons abroad. I don’t consider it impossible that theoretically one such country could be Syria, where we have a protected airbase,” Gutenev said. Another step could be to transition to using gold-pegged cryptocurrency for arms exports, which “China, India and other countries would also be very interested in”. Another round of sanctions will force Russia to “draw its own red lines,” and the full range of proposed measures “would be a serious argument,” Gutenev commented. “In a boxing match you can’t only masterfully dodge blows, without delivering counter-blows, especially when the boxing turns into a fight without rules, and the judges (the WTO and other international institutes) don’t intervene,” he explained. In Gutenev’s opinion, the current sanctions will not be able to cause significant damage to Russia’s defense industry complex. “The program of import substitution has shown very good results, alternative suppliers have been found, and the necessary nomenclature basis for electronics purchased several years in advance. However, it is alarming that the sanctions are not slowing down, and are already acquiring a certain inevitability,” he concluded. The new sanctions package placed on Russia in accordance with the chemical weapons elimination act of 1991 comes into force on Monday, August 27. In the first phase, it expands the restrictions on supplying technology, especially aviation technology. Russia is given 3 months to grant UN inspectors access to its facilities where chemical weapons may be being produced and stored. If Russia refuses, then by the end of November, the second round of sanctions will come into force, which could include cutting back on diplomatic relations, prohibiting Aeroflot flights, and a complete trade embargo.

US plans to use fake chemical weapons attack to strike Syria – Russian MoD — RT World News

The US may have plans to use a fake chemical attack in Syria to hit government forces with airstrikes, the Russian Defense Ministry has said. Washington is already building up strike capability in the Middle East, it said.

TASS: Military & Defense – US brings cruise missile carriers to Middle East for strikes against Syria — top brass

US brings cruise missile carriers to Middle East for strikes against Syria — top brass

US Destroyer Can Strike Any Part of Syria From Mediterranean – Russian MoD – Sputnik International

Earlier, the Ministry announced that the United States, the United Kingdom and France were preparing to carry out new strikes against Syria under the pretext of a false chemical weapons attack by Syrian government forces.

Syrian Air Defenses on Alert Ahead of Possible US Attack – Reports – Sputnik International

US National Security Adviser John Bolton reportedly warned that Washington was ready for military action against Syria if Damascus uses chemical weapons.

Damascus air defenses said placed on high alert for fear of US attack | The Times of Israel

Russia claims US is readying strike on Syrian government forces following ‘staged chemical weapons attack’

TASS: World – Syria’s air defense on ‘highest alert’ in case of sudden strike by US — media

The Syrian air defenses have been placed on high alert in case of a sudden missile strike by the US, news portal Al-Masdar reports

Russia and Syria are using pre-emptive fake news to prepare for a new chemical weapons attack

Russia is an expert at fake news. But pre-emptive fake news? Well, that’s a new one. Russia, Iran, and Syria are now spreading a fake news claim that western powers are preparing a chemical weapons attack in Syria. According to these nations’ propaganda outlets, the conspiracy has involved kidnapping dozens of children who will be used as victims at the attack site. They say the U.S. will then blame Assad for the attack and retaliate against him. Excuse my French, but it is total crap. What’s actually going on here is that Assad and his Russian and Iranian axis cronies are pre-emptively shaping coverage of their own atrocity. Planning new chemical weapons attacks alongside an assault on rebel redoubts in Idlib province, the axis want to avoid any U.S. military response. Thus, by presenting Assad’s looming atrocity as a complex western plot to undercut his regime, the axis hope to attract international calls against U.S. retaliation. And in order to build their fake news’ credibility, the propaganda outlets are offering a lot of detail. RT, for example, has reported a Russian defense official, Igor Konashenkov’s warning that the operation is underway “with the assistance of the British intelligence services.” It’s a lie. In fact, Assad intends to use chemical weapons again because Putin and he want to embarrass and degrade U.S. leadership and rapidly consolidate Assad’s power. They believe that if they can get ahead of their own atrocity they can conduct it in a manner that mitigates the harm that will follow. President Trump must not play this game. Instead, the president must clarify that the U.S. will not dance to Putin’s fake news waltz. If Assad uses chemical weapons again, the U.S. should respond with a magic trick that makes Damascus’ Umayyad Square disappear.

Russian claims that US and UK are plotting Syria chemical attack ‘ridiculous’, says British general 

The most senior British officer in the fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) has denounced Russian claims that Britain and the US are about to stage a chemical attack in Syria.

Is another Syria chemical attack imminent? Russia hints one is coming

Syria’s April 2018 attack on Douma resulted in a massive U.S. airstrike against government run chemical facilities.

‘False flags’: War of words over ‘chemical weapon attack’ in Idlib – Middle East – Jerusalem Post

“All evidence suggests preparations are underway for a new chemical scenario in Idlib,” claimed Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Sunday.

Russia Accuses the U.K. of Helping Rebels Stage Chemical Attack – One America News Network

Breaking News, Latest News and Current News from Breaking news and video. Latest Current News: U.S., World, Entertainment, Health, Business, Technology, Politics, Sports.

Russia′s Syria chemical weapons attack warning dubious, experts say | Middle East| News and analysis of events in the Arab world | DW | 27.08.2018

The Russian government is warning of a staged gas attack by Syrian rebels in Idlib. Experts doubt the validity of that information, however, and see the move as a telltale sign of desperation in Moscow.

How the US has ‘learned a lot’ about Russian capabilities in Syria

As Russian and American forces have settled into Syria, analysts and experts have noticed a clear pattern from the Russian forces. WASHINGTON — As Russian and American forces have settled into Syria, analysts and experts have noticed a clear pattern from the Russian forces. Moscow is using Syria as both a test bed for its newest capabilities and as an opportunity to see American equipment such as the F-22 fighter jet up close. It’s a development that has raised concerns that Moscow may be gaining a military edge over the U.S. from its experiences in the region. The good news for America’s military? It’s doing the same thing. “Certainly, we’ve learned a lot about some of the capabilities that the Russians have brought to Syria,” Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, the outgoing head of U.S. Air Forces Central Command, has told Defense News. “Could we have learned more? There are probably some areas out there that we need to make sure we watch. “We are a learning organization. I won’t go into all the details but there were things that we knew we had to take advantage of, and ensure, feed that back [to] not only the intel community but back into those systems that we needed to improve.” And the U.S. ability to gather data is likely to increase come fall, when the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter appears in Central Command’s area of responsibility.

Russia Wants a Nuclear-Powered Aircraft Carrier | The National Interest

But will it actually happen? Read on.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russian Military isn’t Paying Its Bills – and Suppliers are Increasingly Suing

Paul Goble Staunton, August 27 – Last year, suppliers of the defense ministry went to court almost 3600 times to force it to pay them what it owes; this year, there have been 3200 such suits already, a number that suggests there will be more than 5,000 by the end of this year, Yury Lobunov writes. On the one hand, the Forbes analyst suggests, this reflects cutbacks in the military budget. It has been cut at least nominally both of the last two years. But on the other, it is a product of the ministry’s difficulties in coping with post-Soviet realities and of corruption in the system ( In the majority of cases, Lobunov continues, “lengthy court cases do not save the military from paying its debts. The only significant result of these military actions on the legal front is delaying payment for several months to several years,” something that makes the system ever more difficult to function. But Georgy Fedovo, an advisor to the Duma security committee, says that this pattern reflects “the ineffective administration” of the ministry. “The defense ministry was and remains an enormous system with many branches including non-military infrastructure tasks.” In Soviet times, the military simply was given all that it wanted. But now things have changed. The ministry has been forced to enter into contracts with firms which provide services to others as well, and that is not something the ministry has found it easy to cope with. Moreover, there is an enormous problem with corruption in these firms when they are headed by “’friends of Putin.’” In that event, the real profits lie elsewhere and the ministry is caught in a trap. According to Lobanov, “military lawyers heroically fight for the financial interests” of the ministry. Sometimes this generates respect but sometimes only “a smile” because they adopt tactics that allow the ministry to avoid paying in a timely fashion. Among these is an unwillingness to sign contracts or to extend them – or claims the wrong people signed them. What is interesting is this, he continues. The arbitrage courts typically find for the suppliers, and the appellate courts do the same, even when cases reach the economic collegium of the Supreme Court. But the delays in payments mean that many suppliers are reluctant to provide the ministry with what it needs and this is creating serious bottlenecks in some sectors.

New U.S. sanctions against Russia: Infernal, but not too much | UNIAN

Starting today, the United States has imposed a new round of sanctions on Russia over the poisoning by Russia of a former Russian military intelligence operative Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, UK, in March of this year. Starting today, the United States has imposed a new round of sanctions on Russia over the poisoning by Russia of a former Russian military intelligence operative Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, UK, in March of this year. Sanctions that some experts branded “infernal” will be effective for last at least a year and include a ban on arms sales and financing of arms deals, restrictions on lending by U.S. government agencies, and a ban on exports of dual-use goods and technologies. Also, a ban is imposed on foreign aid to Russia, with the exception of emergency humanitarian aid and food supplies. But these sanctions can hardly be called “infernal,” at least for now. After all, they could be considered such when the economy of the targeted country immediately starts limping heavily. But it would be premature to claim this will be the case upon their introduction.

Why the U.S. Will Keep Russian Sanctions on Simmer, Not Boil

Washington has every intention of continuing to pressure Moscow through sanctions, but it’s also factoring in the wider ramifications for the global economy. The United States will almost certainly impose more sanctions against Russia in the coming months, but the extent of the measures will be a product of deliberation and compromise between the U.S. Congress and the Trump administration. Russia’s efforts to strengthen financial stability and diversify its economic ties as part of its strategy to insulate itself from sanctions will enable Moscow to avoid any major economic disruptions — at least in the near term. Despite the increase in sanctions, the United States and Russia will nevertheless continue to conduct negotiations on issues of contention, including arms control and Syria.

Russia’s hybrid tools of influence: “Dialogue of Сivilizations” as cover | UNIAN

One of the Russian organizations worth attention in the said context is “Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute.” Officially, this “international independent non-governmental organization” declares its objective the research of international relations and raising the level of international security “by developing recommendations in the field of countering the development of conflicts and reducing global tensions,” Information Resistance reports. But, as it is often the case with Russian agents, such declarations have quite different actual goals and employ corresponding hybrid methods, namely, shifting attention away from Russian aggressive actions and imperial ambitions toward the U.S. behavior, at the same time declaring Moscow’s “peaceful” intentions. Sadly, a number of European politicians, businessmen, scientists, and other advocates of Russia take part in these efforts. One of the organization’s leaders is former Austrian Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer who “surfaced” in the case of Paul Manafort, a scandalous political technologist who was once an advisor to former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych and his team.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Crossing a Line — Russian Crowd Attacks Military in Transbaikal and Soldiers Shoot Back

Paul Goble Staunton, August 28 – Last night, a group of Russians at the Petrovsky Zavod station in the Transbaikal attacked a group of Russian soldiers who, after firing warning shots into the air, shot directly into the crowd killing one and injuring several others (новости/1147032/miestnyie_zhitieli_napali_na_voinskii_eshielon_v_zabaikalskom_kraie). According to the news service, there had been a fight between soldiers and local people in a bar during which the civilians had attacked the soldiers with knives. The service reported that the local man who was later killed by the soldiers was a convicted criminal. It did not specify whether all the others involved were. Later reports played up on the criminal aspect of the local population, suggesting that the clash had happened because professional criminals were celebrating a birthday and things got out of hand and stressing that the soldiers had acted appropriately ( However that may be, for ordinary citizens to attack a military unit and for the soldiers to fire back and kill one of their attackers are extraordinary events, and within a few hours, the story went viral. Yandex reported that there have been more than 120 stories in Russian outlets (напасть+на+воинский+эшелон&rpt=nnews2&grhow=clutop). At the very least, both the civilian attack and the military response, on the one hand, and the coverage, on the other, underscores how tense relations are between the Russian military and the Russian population at least in some places in Russia and the willingness of some Russians to take actions that in more settled times would have been completely unthinkable.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russian Xenophobia and Anti-Semitism Up Significantly over Last Year, Levada Poll Finds

Paul Goble Staunton, August 27 – Over the last year, Levada Center polls show, xenophobia and anti-Semitism have increased dramatically, with a third of Russians now saying they do not want to see Roma in Russia, only a few less saying they do not want to see Chinese there, and 12 percent saying the same thing about Jews. All these numbers are up substantially from a year ago, from 17 percent, 15 percent and four percent respectively. Moreover, one in every six now say that they do not want to see any nations in Russia “except Russians,” and the share backing “Russia for the Russians” has nearly doubled from 10 percent to 19 percent ( Hostility to ethnic Ukrainians, people from the Caucasus and gastarbeiters from the former Soviet republics also rose, in some cases to new highs, the poll found. Forty percent favor discriminating against minorities in hiring and rents; and the share supporting restrictions on immigration rose from 58 percent to 67 percent now. The Levada Center sociologists suggested that the numbers this year reflect “a redirection of the anger of Russians about ‘the Other’” as a result of dissatisfaction with the pension reform and “the worsening of consumer and social attitudes.” And they pointed out that many of the groups Russians are most angry about are few in number. One comment on the report about these results in Novaya gazeta helps put these numbers in context ( Maria Kruglyakova said that she hadn’t noticed any increase in xenophobia because she hadn’t seen any decline. She continued: “Nationalism and xenophobia is something that NEVER gives rise in Russia to ANYTHING good. But [tragically] hatred and intolerance are the only thing on the basis of which the unification of people in Russia occurs. “However cynical this sounds, hatred and xenophobia to one group in Russia weakens only with the growth in hatred toward another.”

Russia Cries “Victim” – To Inform is to Influence

Russia has been not only building up its forces, it has literally invaded Georgia twice and Ukraine twice. Yet Russia blames the West for building up their defenses, calling it a “provocation”. The Kremlin has made confrontation with the West a cornerstone of its domestic legitimacy. Confrontation is not peaceful. The Kremlin’s actions speak louder than words. Under such conditions, the buildup is almost certain to continue. Why is Russia a belligerent and acting like a rogue state? Two reasons. Putin needs to put on a tough facade for domestic purposes. Two, Russia believes it earns respect from other nations. Russia’s “common enemy” is the West, a tactic Hitler used to unify the German people. There is no peaceful Russia, there is no true cooperation, there is no room for being civilized by Western standards. Russia thrives on high anxiety, a fear of a common enemy, and have a reason to “do without”, to sacrifice for the good of the motherland. Russia needs to play the role of a playground bully. </end editorial>

Super recogniser squad tracks Skripal novichok attackers

The officers, who have specialist skills in memorising faces, have been examining thousands of hours of CCTV footage.

Putin critic fears ‘Novichok on door handle’ and claims Kremlin henchmen used ex-Brit spies to trace him – Daily Record

British citizen Bill Browder says he could be ‘tortured and murdered’ after falling foul of the tyrant for his anti-corruption work.

Russia Masses Naval Forces in Syria in Anticipation of Possible U.S. Attack

The Russian Navy has dispatched the biggest task force to the Mediterranean Sea since the start of Russia’s intervention in the Syrian conflict in anticipation of what Moscow says is a possible U.S. strike on regime forces. The U.S. warned Russia last week that it was ready to take military action against Syria if President Bashar Assad uses chemical weapons to recapture Idlib, one of the last rebel-held areas in the war-torn country. The Russian Defense Ministry, which called the allegations of a chemical attack a false flag operation, said on Monday it had noticed Washington was building up its military forces in the Middle East in preparation for possible attacks. To prepare for possible U.S. strikes, the Kommersant newspaper reported that the Russian military had moved its Tor-M2 surface-to-air missile systems and two frigates carrying Kalibr cruise missiles to Syria. “This is the most powerful grouping since the beginning of the operation,” the pro-Kremlin Izvestia newspaper said. A total of 10 surface ships and two submarines are on patrol in the Eastern Mediterranean off the Syrian coast, Izvestia cited the Defense Ministry as saying. One tanker and an unspecified number of other vessels are en route to the Mediterranean, the report said.

Russia deploys fleet off Syria while claiming U.S. preparing for possible strike – Middle East News –

Up to 13 Russian warships have crossed the Bosphorus toward Syria so far this week as tensions between the U.S. and Syria continue to rise

Russia news: Putin sends ‘biggest ever’ force to stop US attack on Syria | Daily Star

Russian Navy chiefs have dispatched their biggest task force to the Mediterranean Sea since the start of Russia’s intervention in the Syrian conflict in September 2015. It includes at least ten warships and two submarines – with more vessels on the way, reports Russian daily Izvestia reported. Most of the ships are reported to be carrying Kalibr cruise missiles. Izvestia cites military experts as saying the fleet will be able to support the Syrian army’s campaign in rebel-held Idlib. The move comes amid tensions as Russia claims the US could be gearing up to strike Syria once again over rumours of further chemical attacks. Izvestia cites military experts as saying the fleet will be able to support the Syrian army’s campaign in rebel-held Idlib. Syria has become a flashpoint between Russia and the West as Putin attempts to shield dictator Bashar al-Assad from Iraq-esque intervention by the West.

UAWire – Russia transfers new weapons to Syria ‘because of US activity’

The Russian Defense Ministry has transferred anti-air systems to the Khmeimim airbase, the newspaper Kommersant writes, citing a source. According to Kommersant, after the US-led coalition’s previous strike, a Tor-M2 missile system battery has been deployed at the Russian airbase, in addition to the previously deployed anti-air defense systems. In addition, the flotilla of Russian warships in the Mediterranean Sea has also been enlarged. On August 25, the frigates Admiral Grigorovich and Admiral Essen from the Black Sea Fleet left Sevastopol in order to reinforce the naval units in the Mediterranean. The ships conducted military drills during the transition journey. On August 16, one of the Black Sea Fleet’s small missile boats, Vyshny Volochyok, also made the trip from Sevastopol to the Mediterranean. The boat is equipped with Kalibr cruise missiles. On August 11, ships from Russia’s North Fleet entered the Mediterranean for the first time this year – the large anti-submarine ship Severomorsk and the missile cruiser Marshal Ustinov. On Monday, August 27, Russian Defense Ministry official spokesman Igor Konashenkov said that the American destroyer USS “Ross”, armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles, had entered the Mediterranean. The destroyer USS The Sullivans, armed with 56 Tomahawks, is in the Persian Gulf. The Russian military department claims that the militants in Syria will soon attempt to stage a chemical attack. The “provocation” will justify another strike by the US, UK and France against Syria, the Russian Defense Ministry believes. Washington, on the other hand, says that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s troops are preparing to use chemical weapons. The US promises to retaliate against Syria if this happens. During the chemical attacks in Eastern Ghouta in April 2018, the Russian Defense Ministry also called it “provocation”, whereas the US said that government forces were behind the use of chemical weapons.

DoD ‘Gravely Concerned’ Russian Propaganda Signals New Syria Chemical Attack

The Pentagon is alarmed about Russian propaganda that indicates the Syrian government could be preparing to attack the rebel-held province of Idlib, a Defense Department spokesman said. “We remain gravely concerned over potential reports of a military offensive by the Syrian regime against civilians and civilian infrastructure in Idlib, which would result in devastating humanitarian consequences,” Eric Pahon told Task & Purpose on Monday. “We also underline our concern at the potential for further – and illegal – use of chemical weapons.” Russian government mouthpiece RT posted a story on Sunday claiming “foreign specialists” had arrived in Syria to stage a chemical attack that would be the pretense for the United States, France, and Britain to launch missiles at Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s regime from warships currently steaming towards the Mediterranean.

US on alert as Syrian regime prepares for assault on final rebel stronghold Idlib – CNNPolitics

Amid increasing signs the Syrian regime is heading for an all-out assault on Idlib, the last rebel stronghold in the country, US military and intelligence officials are watching for any indications the regime is moving chemical weapons into the area for possible use against civilians, according to several US officials.

Is U.S. Going to Attack Syria Again? Russia Thinks So and It’s Getting Ready for Action

The U.S. has twice attacked Syrian in response to reports of chemical weapons attacks, but Russia says the events were staged.

Western Powers Call On Russia To Rein In Syria, Prevent ‘Humanitarian Crisis’

Western powers are calling on Russia to rein in its ally Syria and prevent another potential “humanitarian crisis” from breaking out in the latest arena of the country’s seven-year civil war.

Merkel to Trump: Russia needed to restrain Syria′s Assad from attacking Idlib | News | DW | 27.08.2018

Syria’s northwestern Idlib region — crammed with civilians and rebels close to Turkey — needs Russia’s “moderating manner,” Chancellor Angela Merkel has told US President Donald Trump, according to her spokesman.

Trump, Merkel share concerns over Syria as Russia continues largest naval build up since war began – Syria –

‘Russia is called upon to act in a moderating manner on the Syrian government and prevent a further escalation,’ Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said in a statement

Merkel, Trump share concerns about Syrian developments | Reuters

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. President Donald Trump shared concerns about developments in Syria, especially the humanitarian situation in the region around Idlib, their offices said on Monday after the leaders spoke by telephone.

US scrambles for Syria deal ahead of Idlib offensive

The Donald Trump administration is pressing Russia for concessions before Bashar al-Assad’s regime finishes taking back the country.

Idlib on ‘knife’s edge’ as Syrian government prepares for an assault: Experts

Idlib, a strategic governorate that borders Turkey and hosts over two million people, is the last major territory still in militant hands.

IDF Building Ground-To-Ground Missile Unit | Defense content from Aviation Week

TEL AVIV—The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have begun building a new ground-to-ground missile unit to protect Israeli civilians from rocket and artillery attacks. The unit is aimed at immediate responses out to 250 km (155 mi.) range, eliminating the need for the Israeli Air Force to conduct air strikes in those cases. Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Aug. 27 that the building of the new unit is underway, with the first contract signed with IMI Systems for missile procurement. The contract includes mainly two types of missiles—the Accular and the Extra, which can strike targets out to 200 km (120 mi.). The contract is valued at $150 million and ministry sources say more deals will be forthcoming. IMI has developed a family of precision-guided missiles. The largest variant now under development is the “Predator Hawk” missile, with a strike range of 300 km. All the weapons have a strike accuracy of less than 10 m.

Will ISIS make up for lost territory virtually?

One Army leader looks at a way ISIS could

Joe Pappalardo | Iran Just Claimed Control Over the Persian Gulf. Here’s How They’d Defend It.

Iran’s provocative statements are meant to push back in the political struggle against the U.S. But if words gave way to weapons, here’s what would happen next.

Iran’s Rouhani vows to defeat ‘anti-Iranian’ officials in White House

Iran will overcome newly reimposed U.S. measures against Tehran and show “the anti-Iranian officials in the White House” that the sanctions would fail, President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday.

Iran’s leader Hassan Rouhani summoned to parliament over economy | Daily Mail Online

Rouhani (pictured) has come under fire from all sides since Donald Trump withdrew from the West’s nuclear deal with Tehran, battering Iran’s economy with fresh sanctions.

Iran’s parliament blames Rouhani for economic troubles, refers him to judiciary | Reuters

Pressures mounted on Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday as lawmakers summoned him to answer questions on weak economic growth and rising prices, but the parliament was not convinced by his answers and referred the case to the judiciary.

Iran president asks Europe for guarantees on banking channels and oil sales | Reuters

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Monday urged the remaining signatories to its 2015 nuclear agreement to act to save the pact, although France’s leader called again for broader talks on Tehran’s missile program and its role in the Middle East region.

EU Looking to Sidestep U.S. Sanctions With Payments System Plan – Bloomberg

Germany and France said they’re working on financing solutions to sidestep U.S. sanctions against countries such as Iran, including a possible role for central banks.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe: British-Iranian woman accused of spying returns to prison in Iran – CNN

A British-Iranian woman who has been imprisoned in Tehran since 2016 on spying charges returned to prison on Sunday, just three days after she was temporarily released.

Turkey says U.S. trade sanctions could destabilise region, lira slide continues | Reuters

Turkey warned on Monday that U.S. trade sanctions against it could destabilise the Middle East and ultimately bolster terrorism and the refugee crisis, underscoring the regional impact of Ankara’s deepening rift with Washington.

Turkey’s currency plunges 3.5% amid ongoing feud between Washington and Ankara | Business Insider

Turkey’s currency fell sharply Monday as the country resumed trading after a weeklong holiday.

Turkey Made a Bet Against Assad—And Lost – Defense One

Back in 2011, Erdoğan supported the rebels against the Syrian regime in hopes of gaining influence across the Middle East. Things haven’t gone …

Turkey Pursues Warmer Ties With Russia, Europe Amid Dispute With U.S.

As relations between the United States and Turkey have soured in recent months, An kara has stepped up its pursuit of better relations and increased trade with Europe and Russia.

Erdogan to Meet With Putin and Rouhani in Iran – Bloomberg

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will meet with Russian and Iranian leaders in Iran next week to discuss developments in Syria and how to deal with radical Islamic groups who control the last major opposition holdout there.

Özil’s racism complaints need to be taken seriously, Merkel says – Daily Sabah

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Sunday the complaints by Turkish-German football star Mesut Özil, who recently quit the German national team due to…