Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Salisbury CW Attack / Syria / Iran / Russia Ad Hoc Update (134)

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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The deluge of nonsense and threats emanating from Muscovy, Damascus, Tehran and even Ankara defies comprehension. Possibly most interesting is that almost all of it is mutually contradictory, including the Kremlin contradicting the Muscovy Foreign Ministry, and Damascus contradicting Muscovy, and Ankara contradicting the others. If the intent is to sow confusion, they have been collectively successful, but the style of the propaganda is of the classical type, where coherency is paramount, suggesting outright desperation in Muscovy over the imperative to inundate Turkey and Europe with Syrian refugees. Why Muscovy believes it is so important to produce this mayhem in Europe and Turkey at this very time remains unclear – could it be that Russia needs large scale chaos and divisions in the EU as it invades a former Soviet Republic while the summer and autumn weather persists in Eurasia?

Reports from Wiltshire that contaminated emergency vehicles are being buried.

Much argument in UN and Western media over the impending Syrian offensive against Idlib.

Iran again threatens to close the straits – why they believe they can overwhelm military forces of vastly greater strength is curious indeed. Faith is a wonderful thing. Tehran deploys TBMs into Iraq. An interesting essay on the fragility of Erdoğan’s power.

Russia warns US not to ‘play with fire’ in Syria – Lavrov — RT World News

Russia’s foreign minister is the latest official to warn the US against using a possible chemical weapons provocation to justify a new strike against Syrian forces. He said Moscow warned the West not to play with fire in Syria.

Russia Warns U.S. Not to ‘Play With Fire’ in Syria Amid Fears of Fight for Last Rebel Stronghold

There are increased fears that Russia, Syria and Iran are plotting an assault on the last major rebel stronghold in Syria, Idlib, where many civilians still live.

Russia warned Western powers against any military intervention in Syria – Defence Blog

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has warned Western powers 30 Aug against any military intervention in Syria. On August 30, Russian Foreign Minister said during talks with Walid Muallem, Syrian Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers, Foreign and Expatriates Minister in Moscowб that Moscow warning the West not to play with fire in Syria. A new provocation is being prepared by the West to hamper the anti-terrorist operation in Idlib,” Lavrov said during a joint media conference with his Syrian counterpart, Walid Muallem. “We have facts on the table and have issued a strong warning to our Western partners through our Defense Ministry and our Foreign Ministry not to play with fire.” Moscow has sent a clear and strong warning to the West against playing with fire in the Syrian province of Idlib, Lavrov said. “It is no secret that not everyone is happy with progress in resolving the Syrian issue, fighting against terrorism and creating conditions for the return of refugees,” Lavrov said. “Attempts are being made to impede these processes and use various provocateurs, including extremists and well-known provocateurs calling themselves the White Helmets, who are famous for staging chemical weapons attacks and blaming them on the Syrian government in order to provide the western countries with an excuse to carry out attacks on Syria,” the Russian top diplomat pointed out. Earlier, the Russian militaryreportedthat a group of militants in Syria was preparing a provocation, in which chlorine gas would be used to frame the Syrian government forces. The incident would be used by the US and its allies to justify a new attack against the country, similar to what happened in April, according to the claim. Amid international tensions, Russia has launched a massive naval exercise in the Mediterranean Sea, which involves 25 ships and 30 aircraft, including Tu-160 strategic bombers.

TASS: Russian Politics & Diplomacy – Kremlin: Terrorism hotbed in Idlib does not bode well

This is why enhanced precautionary measures are reasonable and justifiable, the Kremlin spokesman said

TASS: Russian Politics & Diplomacy – Lavrov says terrorists’ use of Idlib for attacks on Russian, Syrian troops unacceptable

Moscow has sent a clear and strong warning to the West against playing with fire in the Syrian province of Idlib, the top diplomat said

TASS: Russian Politics & Diplomacy – Damascus making steps to reconcile with opposition in Idlib, says Lavrov

Turkey is responsible for the maintenance of stability in the Idlib zone of de-escalation

Syrian Army will ‘go all the way in Idlib’ – FM

BEIRUT, LEBANON (4:00 A.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) will “go all the way in Idlib,” Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said on Thursday. “We are

TASS: Russian Politics & Diplomacy – Russian drills in Mediterranean Sea not related to Idlib situation, senior diplomat says

The Russian Defense Ministry announced earlier on Thursday that Russia will hold large-scale drills in the Mediterranean Sea on August 1-8

Kremlin points to ‘terrorists in Idlib’ when asked about massive naval drill near Syria’s shores — RT World News

On Saturday, the Russian military will start a week-long exercise in the Mediterranean, involving 25 ships and strategic bombers. The Kremlin agreed the drill may be connected with the situation in Syria’s Idlib governorate.

TASS: Military & Defense – Russia to hold Mediterranean drills involving 25 warships and 30 aircraft

Russia will hold drills in the Mediterranean Sea on September 1-8

Russia to Hold Mediterranean Naval Drills as Tensions Over Syria Rise

Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Thursday it would hold a major naval exercise in the Mediterranean Sea from Sept. 1 to Sept. 8, the TASS news agency reported, a move that coincides with rising tensions between Moscow and Washington over Syria. Russia has this month been actively expanding its naval forces in the Mediterranean, part of what a Russian newspaper on Tuesday called Moscow’s largest naval build-up since it entered the Syrian conflict in 2015. TASS cited the defense ministry as saying that 25 warships and submarines and 30 planes, including fighter jets and strategic bombers, would take part, and that the drills would involve anti-aircraft, anti-submarine and anti-mining exercises. The drills come amid rising tensions between Russia and the West over Syria’s northern rebel-held region of Idlib. A source said on Wednesday that Russia’s ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, was preparing a phased offensive there.

Syria Delivers Evidence to UN Showing Peparations for False Flag Chemical Attack in Idlib

Syria delivered evidence to the United Nations that rebels in Idlib are preparing to carry out a false flag chemical attack.

Russia informed OPCW Director General of impending provocation in Syria

Russia informed Director General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Fernando Arias about the impending provocation in

Turkey Working With Iran, Russia to Avoid Provocation in Syria’s Idlib – Erdogan – Sputnik International

MOSCOW/ANKARA/VIENNA (Sputnik) – The situation around Idlib has recently escalated with both Moscow and Damascus suggesting that militants are planning to stage a false-flag chemical attack against civilians there to frame the Syrian government.

UAWire – Lavrov: Russia and Turkey agreed on joint operation in northern Syria

Russia and Turkey agreed to prepare an operation against the militant group al-Nusrah Front, in the Syrian region of Idlib, together with forces of the Syrian President, Bashar Assad, stated the Russian Minister of Foreign Affair, Sergey Lavrov, TASS reports. “I very much hope that our partners in the West will indulge in provocations and dramatizations, and will not oppose the antiterrorist operations in the de-escalation zone against the al-Nusrah Front,” he said. Idlib, a refuge for civilians and rebels who migrated from other areas of Syria, as well as powerful jihadist forces, was struck by a wave of air strikes and shelling this month, in a possible prelude to a full-scale government offensive. The US warned against any use of chemical or biological weapons and promised a “powerful response,” in the case of an attack in Idlib. Turkey, which established military posts in Idlib, urged Moscow to abandon mass bombings in the region. “Russia stands for dissociating the Syrian opposition from militants in Idlib and simultaneously conducting a military operation against al-Nursah Front,” declared the minister of Foreign Affairs. He stated that armed opposition is ready for discussions with Assad. “There is a complete political understanding between Moscow and Ankara. There is a need to urgently separate the regular armed oppositionists from bandits from the al-Nusrah Front and simultaneously prepare an operation against these terrorists, doing everything to minimize the risks for the civilian population” Lavrov stressed. Meanwhile, NATO confirms the massive build-up of Russian naval forces in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Syria. In turn, the Russian Ministry of Defense states that the United States is concentering warships equipped with cruise missiles in the Middle East. In April, the Trump administration assembled a coalition of American, French and British forces to attack targets associated with the production of chemical weapons owned by the Syrian government.

TASS: World – Turkey expects to receive S-400 missile systems as soon as possible — Erdogan

News about Russian-Turkish talks on the delivery of the S-400 systems first came in November 2016

Russia news: Putin declares Mediterranean DANGER ZONE amid navy war games  | Daily Star

RUSSIAN officials have declared an area of the Mediterranean Sea a danger zone after deploying more than 50 warships and aircraft for a series of deadly military drills.

Russia keeps saying the West is planning chemical attacks in Syria — and it’s a sign Assad may be about to use them again | Business Insider

As the Syrian regime sets its sights on the last remaining rebel stronghold of Idlib, the Russian Defence Ministry in at least the last week has pushed a narrative about possible upcoming staged chemical attacks in the rebel-held province.

Syrian FM threatens all-out assault on Idlib – YouTube

Al Jazeera English Published on Aug 30, 2018 Syria’s foreign minister is threatening an assault in Idlib province, the last rebel-held stronghold. Walid al-Muallem says the army will do everything possible to avoid civilian deaths.

Russia and Syria vow to ‘wipe out terrorists’ in Idlib | Syria News | Al Jazeera

Humanitarian fears grow as Russian and Syrian FMs signal all-out attack on last rebel-held stronghold is imminent.

Lavrov: West is Blocking Chemical Weapons Inspections in Syria — Not True

It was not the Western countries that tried to block OPCW inspections in Syria. Rather, Russia and the Syrian government have tried to block such inspections, and Russia has used its veto power on …

Mark Gongloff | Russia’s Economy Is Stuck In A Putin Trap – Bloomberg

Without the rule of law, economic rebirth is impossible. Vladimir Putin seems to have it all: Seemingly endless political power. Oil. A nuclear arsenal. A way with horses. Whatever this is. What he doesn’t have, though, is the ability to breathe new life into Russia’s listless economy. And that is bad news for the country’s future – which has implications for the rest of the world. More specifically, Putin can’t fix what ails Russia – slow growth, crumbling infrastructure and an unhealthy and aging workforce, for starters – without changing everything about how he rules, write Bloomberg’s editors: “Putin can have Putinism or a more prosperous Russia, but not both.” Read the whole thing.

Washington Warns of Sanctioning India Over Russian Missile System – Foreign Policy

The world’s two largest democracies have a burgeoning defense relationship. Moscow could play spoiler.

Vehicles that might contain deadly Russian nerve agent Novichok buried at Bishop’s Cleeve landfill site – Gloucestershire Live

The Government says it has happened at Wingmoor Farm but insists members of the public are not at risk from the toxic material

UAWire – Ukrainian President’s representative claims Russia may have started development of chemical weapons in Crimea

Speaking about the environmental situation in the north of the Crimea, where an unknown substance was discharged on August 27, the representative of the Ukraine’s President in the Crimea, Boris Babin, said that Russia could be producing components of chemical weapons in the territory of the annexed peninsula, Ukrinform news agency reports. Babin said that environmental problems caused by the illegal activities of companies in the north part of the annexed Crimea, affect not only the residents of Armyansk but also the Kherson region settlements adjacent to the peninsula. “We will insist on launching an appropriate environmental monitoring to have a clear assessment of an ecological disaster on the Russian government-controlled territory as a result of illegal activities of companies in northern Crimea,” said Babin. According to Babin, the Titan plant in Armyansk, as well as the sodium oxide and bromine plants in Krasnoperekopsk, produce emissions that caused the ecological disaster in the north part of the Crimea and in the Kherson region. He added that the Titan chemical plant produces paints and cosmetics, but titanium is also used on the hulls of submarines and missiles, while the products of the sodium oxide plant is used in the glass industry. The products made by the bromine plant were used for manufacturing chemical weapons during Soviet times. “Considering all the famous scandalous cases of Russia using chemical weapons in Britain, I do not rule out the possibility that Russians may have restored the production of components for chemical weapons at the enterprises in Crimea,” said Babin.

NATO Reports Russian Naval Buildup Amid Syria Tensions |

NATO says the Russian navy is building up its presence in the Mediterranean Sea amid growing tensions over the war in Syria.

25 ships, 30 jets: Russia to hold war games off Syria as Idlib tensions rise – Middle East News –

Drills come amid report Bashar Assad is preparing to mount a final assault upon Syria’s northern rebel-held region of Idlib ■ Kremlin describes Idlib as hotbed of terrorists, says not tackling the problem is not a good option

Russia to hold major naval exercise in Mediterranean Sea

Russia said it would hold a naval exercise in the Mediterranean Sea in September, a move that coincides with rising tensions between Moscow and Washington.

Turkey working with Russia, Iran to prevent disaster in Syria’s Idlib: Erdoğan – Daily Sabah

Turkey is working together with Russia and Iran to prevent another Aleppo-like disaster in Syria’s Idlib, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said…

Turkey working to prevent ‘disaster’ in Syria: Erdogan

‘We are a nation that wins on the field not at the table,’ says president – Anadolu Agency

US must share its intelligence on Syria rebels, says Turkey | World | The Times

Turkey has proposed that the US share intelligence with Russia and Iran on Syrian extremist groups to prevent what could become the biggest humanitarian crisis of the seven-year war.Mevlut Cavusoglu, the Turkish foreign minister, said in an exclusive interview with The Times that the suggestion was

Syrian envoy slams UN chief for siding with ‘aggressors’ in Idlib

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said in the statement that there were “growing risks” of a humanitarian disaster in the northwestern province in

De Mistura warns of ‘perfect storm’ over Syria’s Idlib | News | Al Jazeera

Fears are rising that Syria, backed by Russia, is mobilizing for a military offensive to retake last rebel-held enclave.

UN warns Russia, Iran, Turkey over imminent Idlib offensive

The United Nations has called on guarantor powers Russia, Iran, and Turkey to forestall a battle in Syria’s Idlib province, saying a humanitarian corridor should be set up to allow civilians to leave the area.

Syrian opposition rejects UN’s plan of Idlib evacuation | Arab News

JEDDAH: The UN called on Russia, Iran and Turkey on Thursday to forestall a battle in Syria’s Idlib province, which could affect millions of civilians and see both militants and the regime potentially using chlorine gas as a chemical weapon. UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura said that there was a high concentration of foreign fighters in Idlib, including an estimated 10,000

Syria’s last rebel stronghold braces for the regime’s wrath – The Washington Post

The Assad regime and its allies are readying for an offensive that may end Syria’s civil war.

Assad offensive on Syria’s rebel-held Idlib reportedly imminent, despite fear of mass civilian casualties – Syria –

Idlib is Syria’s last big rebel enclave that government forces have yet to take back, but it is also a haven for refugees displaced from other areas of the war-torn country

Idlib’s fate looks more likely to be decided in Moscow than in Ankara | Middle East Eye

Agreements between Russia and Turkey may persuade Assad to limit the Idlib assault for now, but his push to reconquer the rebel province is inevitable

Syria Says Military Set For Major Offensive In Idlib As Russia Plans Major Naval Drills In Mediterranean

Syria has acknowledged it is preparing an all-out offensive against rebel fighters in Idlib Province as its ally Russia plans major naval maneuvers in the Mediterranean Sea amid growing tensions with the West in the region.

UN envoy says he ‘is ready to go to Idlib’ to help ensure civilian safety amid rising fears of government offensive | UN News

A massive military escalation by the Government of Syria to retake Idlib risks a “worst case scenario”,  United Nations negotiator Staffan de Mistura said on Thursday.

UN Envoy Warns Against Use of Chemical Weapons in Battle for Idlib – YouTube

VOA News Published on Aug 30, 2018 The United Nations expressed concern for civilians in the Idlib area in northwestern Syria, where government forces, backed by Russia, plan to launch a major offensive to reclaim the last rebel stronghold. U.N. envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura warned Thursday that chemical weapons use would be unacceptable. VOA’s Zlatica Hoke reports the U.N. official urged the Syrian government to allow civilians to leave Idlib before launching an offensive likely to cause another humanitarian catastrophe.

Syria Idlib: UN warns of threat to civilians if new offensive begins – BBC News

Fear grows for people in rebel-held parts of Idlib ahead of what may be one of the war’s last major battles.

An explainer: Syrian attack on final rebel stronghold in Idlib could be imminent – The Washington Post

U.N. envoy Staffan di Mistura warned that the people of Idlib province are facing the prospect of a “perfect storm.”

U.S. Says Syria Should Choose Its Own Future, But Assad Must Go

The defense secretary said the U.S. must support efforts so “the Syrian people can establish a new government that is not led by Assad.”

Will Congress let Trump strike Syria again?

As the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad prepare for a final military offensive against Idlib, one of the last remaining rebel-dominated provinces in the war-torn country, Trump administration officials are concerned about the possibility of more chemical weapons attacks. The United States, France, and the U.K. issued a joint statement pledging that any additional use of chemical agents by the Assad regime would be met with an appropriate response. National security adviser John Bolton delivered a similar message to his Russian counterpart during his visit to Moscow last week. According to Bloomberg News, Bolton told the Russians an Assad regime chemical attack would be met with far greater force than Washington’s previous retaliatory strikes in April 2017 and April 2018.

Syria reveals fate of people thrown into ‘slaughterhouse’ jails – CNN

In an attempt to turn the page on one of the darkest chapters in Syria’s seven-year war, officials released the death notices of more than 800 prisoners over the course of this summer.

Iran Warns No Oil Will Pass Through World’s Most Important Route if U.S. Sanctions Work

After the U.S. defense secretary said Iran was “on notice,” the Islamic Republic’s top general warned any attacking forces would “pay a heavy price.”

Iran says it will block Middle East oil exports if it can’t ship –

If the Islamic Republic can’t use the Strait of Hormuz for its oil exports, “there will be no security for others either and no other crude will be exported from this region,” Armed Forces Chief of Staff Mohammad Bagheri said.

Iran has the ‘Political Clout’ to Pressure US – Risk Consultant – Sputnik International

Iran will take measures if states break international law in the Strait of Hormuz. This is what Major General Mohammad Bagheri, chief of staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, said. The news comes as a senior Saudi official stated that the current sanctions imposed on Tehran were unlikely to halt Iranian exports completely.

Iran oil crisis: ‘US will pay HEAVY PRICE’: Iran may CUT OFF key Strait of Hormuz route | World | News |

THE WORLD’s largest oil chokepoint has been threatened with closure by Iran’s most senior general if the Trump administration manages to successfully cut off the Middle Eastern country’s oil and gas trade.

Making Iran Oil Sanctions Hit Harder This Time – Bloomberg

The U.S. should close the loophole on petroleum condensate exports.

Exclusive: Iran moves missiles to Iraq in warning to enemies | Reuters

Iran has given ballistic missiles to Shi’ite proxies in Iraq and is developing the capacity to build more there to deter attacks on its interests in the Middle East and to give it the means to hit regional foes, Iranian, Iraqi and Western sources said.

Iran moves missiles to Iraq in warning to enemies: Sources   

Iran has given ballistic missiles to Shi’ite proxies in Iraq and is developing the capacity to build more there to deter attacks on its interests in the Middle East and to give it the means to hit regional foes, sources tell Reuters.

Exclusive: Iran moves missiles to Iraq in warning to enemies – sources | Reuters

Iran has given ballistic missiles to Shi’ite proxies in Iraq and is developing the capacity to build more there to deter attacks on its interests in the Middle East and to give it the means to hit regional foes, Iranian, Iraqi and Western sources said.

Iran Continues to Comply With Nuclear Deal, U.N. Atomic Agency Says – WSJ

A confidential report from the International Atomic Energy Agency confirms the country’s compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal. The report comes as tensions between Iran and the West have sharpened.

UN watchdog: Iran is complying with nuclear deal | TheHill

The United Nations’ nuclear watchdog reportedly affirmed in a confidential report that Iran has remained within the restrictions imposed on the country by a nuclear deal Tehran reached with the U.S. and other major powers in 2015.

Iran is complying with nuclear deal restrictions: IAEA report | Reuters

Iran has remained within the main restrictions on its nuclear activities imposed by a 2015 deal with major powers, a confidential report by the U.N. atomic watchdog indicated on Thursday.

Iran may ABANDON USA nuclear deal as EU countries persuade Hassan Rouhani to remain member | World | News |

IRAN’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, has warned the country’s President and his cabinet they can’t rely on the support from European countries for the landmark agreement after the US withdrew itself from the accord.

Iran news: Saudi Arabia minister BLASTS Iran over nuclear programme – ‘More US sanctions’ | World | News |

SAUDI Arabia’s Foreign Minister has lashed out at Iran, insisting the state ‘deserves’ further economic sanctions following Tehran’s plans to abruptly close the Strait of Hormuz, as tensions escalate in the Persian Gulf.

Japan halts Iran oil imports under US pressure – Nikkei Asian Review

TOKYO — Japanese oil companies will stop importing oil from Iran in accordance with the U.S. reinstatement of sanctions on the country.The Japanese g

Is Japan Giving Up On Securing A Sanction Waiver For Iranian Oil? |

S&P Global Platts today cited a Japanese government official as saying it was not giving up the fight for a sanction waiver on the grounds that it would cause grave energy security concerns

World War 3: USA could invade Iran after nuclear deal breakdown and sanctions | World | News |

THE US is ‘expected to invade Iran’ with military force by the end of his year after the war of sanctions escalates, an expert has claimed.

ISIS Militants Likely To End Up In Iraqi Prison, Guantanamo: Reports

A former hostage said he and victims’ family members oppose the possibility.

Clashes escalate in Libya’s capital, killing 26 – ABC News

The fighting is between groups from Tripoli against others from another town.

Saudi CH-4B armed UAV shot down by Houthi rebels in Yemen – Defence Blog

Yemen’s Houthi rebels claimed that on Thursday that the group’s fighters have shot down a CH-4B armed unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) of the Royal Saudi Air Force. According to a statement issued by the Houthi’s media on 30 August, Saudi CH-4B armed UAV was shot down near Tuwal border crossing. In a Twitter post, the unofficial Yemen Observer released a photograph that shows the wreckage of downed Saudi CH-4B armed drone near Tuwal. The CH-4B is a medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle developed by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC). It is equipped with a semi-retractable electro-optic turret and synthetic aperture radar/ Also, the CH-4B has four underwing pylons, able to mount up to 345kg of stores. Chinese-made armed UAV can carry up to 770 pounds of munitions, including the AR-1 laser-guided air-to-surface missile, TG-100 laser, inertial or FT-9 50kg GPS-guided bomb, and the HJ-10 anti-tank missile. It is specifically designed for high-altitude missions over land and sea and can fire its weapon from up to 5,000 meters. According to, the CH-4 is built by state-owned aircraft manufacturer China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) and closely resembles the U.S.-made General Atomics Aeronautical Systems’ MQ-9 Reaper drone.

The Myth of Erdogan’s Power – Foreign Policy

Far from a sultan, the Turkish president is hemmed in by the nationalists who back him—and they don’t want him to get too close to Russia.