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Salisbury CW Attack / Syria / Iran / Russia Ad Hoc Update (142)

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

While reviewing this blog post, I must have facepalmed at least ten times. The sheer arrogance, chutzpah, and hubris of Russia is seriously overwhelming.

How can the Russian populace not see how bizarre and dangerous Putin’s government is? How can the governments of the world not see how the Russian government has become foul, corrupt, and deviant?  Can the UN not see that the Russian government is, de facto, waging a war against their own people as well as against the world? 

They say seeing is believing. The world must be blind.

</end editorial>

The propaganda barrage from Muscovy continues, and a lot of it is war hysteria, evidently, the imperative to distract Russia’s populace from the mundane realities of being fleeced by the regime is growing. With Vostok-2018 underway, the regime is talking up its ties with China, especially the trust relationship, which given the history of PRC-Soviet relations, rates as comical. Reports emerging that Russia is the leading suspect in the unexplained attacks on US diplomats in Cuba. Interesting commentary by Eidman on the nature of the regime. No less interesting observations by Inozemtsev and Voronov.

Stroop and Larionov’s analyses of Russia’s campaign to subvert the Eastern Orthodox Churches, using the Russian Orthodox Church as a proxy, are fascinating – the campaign against the Ukrainian churches is but part of a larger play to assert Russian dominance over the Eastern Orthodox faith, and displace the Patriarchate of Constantinople, elevating Muscovy instead, and downgrade the status held by Constantinople since 381AD.

Multiple articles on Salisbury – the Intel Brief is most interesting as it presents the motives for the attack from a Russian perspective, as in intimidating the diaspora and domestic populace.

Syria reports are most interesting, and suggest much of Russia’s propaganda barrage over the last week was for domestic audiences. NatSec Adviser Bolton states that any military action against Syria will be “much stronger” than previous punitive strikes. Talks over German participation continue. Erdoğan pleads for help in a WSJ OpEd. Much more interesting are reports that Assad is in difficulty standing up a ground force of sufficient size for the offensive – Gutman citing Syrian sources specifically states that Iranian and Hezbollah troops in Syria are reluctant to join the offensive, this does make some sense as both are funded by Iran and these are not as easily expendable as Iranian assets might have been 12-24 months ago, especially as the principal payoff from the offensive goes to Russia when the EU is inundated with three million refugees. They would also be targets of any Coalition intervention should the situation evolve to a broader Western intervention. And Israel wants them out of Syria. Of course, Muscovy is always happy to burn up its own troops by the thousand in human wave attacks, so the notion that Muscovy would be in any fashion restrained about burning up Iranian troops is contrary to evidence.

Finally, LtCmdr Tremel, USN, gets a DFC for bagging a Syrian AF Su-22 FITTER last year.

Prelude To World War III – OpEd – Eurasia Review

Unless Syria will simply hand its most heavily pro-jihadist province, Idlib, to adjoining Turkey, which claims to have 30,000 troops there and is planning to add 20,000 more, World War III will probably happen soon, and here is why: Russia’s troops are in Syria at the invitation of Syria’s Government and they have provided crucial assistance to restore the Government’s control over areas that the jihadists (sometimes called “Radical Islamic Terrorists” or otherwise) had seized. Consequently, unlike the Turks and the Americans, who are invaders of Syria, Russia is instead a defender of Syria, and is committed to doing there only what the Syrian Government authorizes it to do and what Russia is willing to do there. Right now, the Trump Administration has committed itself to prohibiting Syria (and its allies) from retaking control of Idlib, which is the only province that was more than 90% in favor of Al Qaeda and of ISIS and against the Government at the start of the ‘civil war’ in Syria. Idlib is even more pro-jihadist now, because almost all of the surviving jihadists in Syria have sought refuge there — and the Government freely has bussed them there in order to minimize the amount of “human shield” hostage-taking by them in the other provinces. Countless innocent lives were saved this way. Both Democratic and Republican U.S. federal officials and former officials are overwhelmingly supportive of U.S. President Trump’s newly announced determination to prohibit Syria from retaking control of that heavily jihadist province, and they state such things about Idlib as: It has become a dumping ground for some of the hardcore jihadists who were not prepared to settle for some of the forced agreements that took place, the forced surrenders that took place elsewhere. … Where do people go when they’ve reached the last place that they can go? What’s the refuge after the last refuge? That’s the tragedy that they face. That happened to be an Obama Administration official expressing support for the jihadists, and when he was asked by his interviewer “Did the world fail Syria?” he answered “Sure. I mean, there’s no doubt about it. I mean, the first person who failed Syria was President Assad himself.”

Charges of Chemical Weapons in Syria Aim to ‘Manipulate Public Perception’ – Sputnik International

As the showdown over the rebel-occupied city of Idlib in northern Syria looms, the US has made numerous predictions that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is planning to use chemical weapons during the battle, despite providing no evidence and even flimsier motives for such an event.

Trump Pushes Iran and Turkey Towards Russia – Sputnik International

The recent trilateral summit on Syria would have been unthinkable a couple of years ago. However, Donald Trump did his best to make it happen by pushing Erdogan and Rouhani into an an-hoc alliance with Russia.

US Seeking to Ruin Syria’s Future as China’s Belt and Road Partner – Lawyer – Sputnik International

The US is considering strikes on Syrian government forces should chemical arms be used in Idlib. The Wall Street Journal has reported that the strikes could also target Russian and Iranian forces there. Speaking to Radio Sputnik, James O’Neill, an Australian-based barrister-at-law, stressed that the US has no legal foundations to conduct an attack.

Turkish Defense Minister Calls for Halt of Military Operations in Idlib – Sputnik International

ANKARA (Sputnik) – While the Syrian government has regained control over most of the country’s territories following several years of armed conflicts with the opposition and militant groups, including terrorist organizations, the Idlib de-escalation zone remains a stronghold of insurgency and is still being cleared of terrorists.

Virginia State Senator Claims U.K. Planning False-Flag Chemical Attack in Syria

Virginia State Senator Richard H. Black (R-Loudoun) claims the U.K. is preparing a chemical weapons attack against Syrian civilians.

Amnesty International Says Russian Police ‘Stooped To New Low’ After Crackdown On Protesters

Russian police have “stooped to a new low” by detaining “dozens of teenagers” during peaceful protests against the government’s plan to raise the retirement age, Amnesty International says. Russian police have “stooped to a new low” by detaining “dozens of teenagers” during peaceful protests against the government’s plan to raise the retirement age, Amnesty International says. The London-based human rights watchdog made the statement on September 10, a day after more than 1,000 people were detained nationwide as anti-Kremlin demonstrators took to the streets in rallies coinciding with regional and local elections.

Putin Allies Suffer Election Setbacks Amid Pensions Protests – Bloomberg

Russian President Vladimir Putin got a taste of public anger at his plans to increase the pension age as voters turned on the ruling party in regional elections and hundreds were arrested at protests against the reform.

UAWire – Russia convenes UN Security Council session on Syria

Russia has asked that an open session of the UN Security Council be held in order to discus the results of the summit between Russia, Iran and …

U.S. officials suspect Russia in mystery ‘attacks’ on diplomats in Cuba, China

WASHINGTON — Intelligence agencies investigating mysterious “attacks” that led to brain injuries in U.S. personnel in Cuba and China consider Russia to be the main suspect, three U.S. officials and two others briefed on the investigation tell NBC News. The suspicion that Russia is likely behind the alleged attacks is backed up by evidence from communications intercepts, known in the spy world as signals intelligence, amassed during a lengthy and ongoing investigation involving the FBI, the CIA and other U.S. agencies. The officials declined to elaborate on the nature of the intelligence. The evidence is not yet conclusive enough, however, for the U.S. to formally assign blame to Moscow for incidents that started in late 2016 and have continued in 2018, causing a major rupture in U.S.-Cuba relations.

NBC: Russia ‘Leading Suspect’ in Attacks on US Diplomats in Cuba |

NBC: Russia ‘Leading Suspect’ in Attacks on US Diplomats in Cuba

Window on Eurasia — New Series: ‘Putin’s Criminal Regime Reproduces Itself Wherever Russian Forces Go,’ Eidman Says

Paul Goble Staunton, September 10 – The recent use of violence by and then against the leaders of the DNR and LNR calls attention to a development many have preferred to ignore: “Putin’s criminal regime reproduces itself everywhere the boot of a Russian society, a chekist, or a mercenary comes down,” Igor Eidman says. “’The Russian world’ is marching across the world,” the Russian commentator continues. “It is not simply an invented political technology simulacrum: it is ‘a new order’ which the Kremlin is seeking to impose on other countries. Its basis is systemic corruption, terror against those who disagree, and all power to the bureaucrats and special services” ( Any doubt that the Kremlin ordered the liquidation of Zakharchenko, the head of the DNR, has disappeared, Eidman says. That action fits into the general scheme that Moscow has applied again and again against its agents abroad, people who resemble their bosses in the Kremlin but at a much lower level. From the perspective of the criminal bosses in Moscow, the criminals in places like the Donbass have to be eliminated periodically to remind everyone that the latter must recognize their place and not steal more than those above them see as appropriate, the commentator continues. When they violate the unspoken rules, they have to be eliminated. The accusations against such people have become “standard” – stealing from business and from the budget – “in general all that the Putin brotherhood does but on an incomparably greater scale. And the methods of the two groups are “similar: murders, torture, and prisons for the intractable.” In short, the same Putin “systm” at home and abroad. There are many in Moscow who behave just as its clients do in the Donbass, Eidman says. But “they steal not from coal trucks but billions from the budget, they take not from stores but from oil companies, they torture not in basements but in an enormous modernized GULAG, and they sent terrorists out to kill not in a neighboring village but to the ends of the earth.”

Putin says Russia’s defense ties with China based on trust | Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin told Chinese President Xi Jinping that Moscow and Beijing’s relations were based on trust in areas ranging from politics to security and defense.

Russia Holding Massive Military Drills, As Putin Meets Xi

Russia has begun massive military exercises across its central and eastern regions, starting weeklong war games the Defense Ministry says will involve some 300,000 personnel — twice as many as the…

US policy drives Russia, China together ahead of summit – ABC News

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

Russia war games: Vostok 2018 will be the biggest war games since 1981

Russia launches a week of massive military exercises in the far east of the country this week and the Pentagon will be watching the “war games” very closely, one expert told CNBC.

Moscow to stage largest post-Soviet maneuver in eastern Russia | News | DW | 28.08.2018

Hundreds of thousands of troops are expected to participate in Russia’s biggest military maneuver since the Cold War. Also taking part in eastern Russia at its “Vostok-2018” drill will be Chinese and Mongolian forces.

300K Russian troops to participate in largest military exercises in decades: report | TheHill

Russia on Tuesday will begin its largest military drill in almost 40 years, according to the Kremlin.

Russia: 300,000 troops mobilise for war games – YouTube

The Sun Published on Sep 11, 2018 According to the Russian Ministry of Defence, the Vostok-2018 drills are to be held from 11 to 17 September, in the Far East of Russian, footage from Monday shows. Reportedly around 300,000 troops, 1,000 aircraft, 36,000 armoured vehicles and 80 vessels are to take part in the drills. The forces’ leadership will be exercising their ability to implement command and redeployment of personnel and hardware and organise the interplay between the Army and the Navy.

Russia, West show war games aren’t just games: ex-NATO chief | UNIAN

Over the coming weeks, both NATO and Russia will launch a series of super-high-end war games. These games are hardly for fun — rather, they are deadly serious practice sessions for hundreds of thousands of soldiers, thousands of combat aircraft, and flotillas of combat ships. As military tensions heat up, both sides will be flexing their muscles from Iceland to China. Over the coming weeks, both NATO and Russia will launch a series of super-high-end war games. These games are hardly for fun — rather, they are deadly serious practice sessions for hundreds of thousands of soldiers, thousands of combat aircraft, and flotillas of combat ships. While no one will die (other than by accident, a not uncommon occurrence in such exercises), the messages going back and forth are crystal clear: We are prepared for war, James Stavridis, a retired U.S. Navy admiral and former military commander of NATO, wrote in an op-ed for Bloomberg. Russia’s exercise is called Vostok — which means “east” — and will be held principally east of the Ural Mountains. It is the largest military exercise by Russia since Soviet times (in 1981) and will deploy 300,000 troops and more than 1,000 military aircraft. Of note, China will participate with thousands of its troops operating alongside the Russians (there will also be a token contingent of troops from Mongolia, which has been a partner to both Russia and NATO at times).

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Election Results East of Urals Highlight Failure of Putin’s ‘Turn to the East,’ Inozemtsev Says

Paul Goble Staunton, September 10 – Vladimir Putin has regularly talked about the need to invest and develop Russia east of the Urals. Indeed, the Kremlin leader has declared that this is Russia’s “main priority in the 21st century. But the results of Sunday’s elections call attention to his failure to make much progress in that regard, Vladislav Inozemtsev says. Three of the four regions where United Russia candidates for governor failed to win outright in the first round were in that region, the Moscow economist points out. Moreover, the ruling party lost numerous mayoral posts as well as a guaranteed majority in many of the regional assemblies ( Compounding national anger at Putin’s pension plan in that enormous region, Inozemtsev continues, is the fact that nothing he or Moscow has done has “stopped the outflow of population from the region, reduced the break with neighboring China and Japan or essentially improved the quality of life of local people” – and they responded with their votes. According to the analyst, there are two reasons for this failure and these votes. “On the one hand, ‘the turn to the East’ was forced.” It was the product of Russia’s problems in the West rather than of any calculation of economic interests in the East. And consequently, there is no Moscow policy which views the Far East as a territory “open for development.” “The Kremlin has forgotten that the earth is round … and has been trying to find an alternative to the West in the East. But since the conflict with the West was conditioned by political factors, cooperation with the East has turned out to be extremely politicized – and therefore irrational,” Inozemtsev says. In essence, Moscow’s policy has been reduced to expanding relations with China which is pursuing its interests in the Russian Far East rather than Russian interests or to engaging in showy actions that don’t justify the money spent on them rather than on real tasks which could have a positive impact. “On the other hand, residents of the region ever more clearly recognize that they have become a kind of supply chain between Russia and China: beginning in 2009, in the framework of cooperation with our ‘best friend,’ have been launched numerous projects for extracting resources but not one for processing them” within the borders of Russia. Chinese firms have cut down Russian forests “in a barbarous fashion.” Railroads have been developed only to increase the export of coal from Russia to China, and electricity is being exported to China “even below the cost of production.” None of this promotes the development of the region, but it may invest some of Putin’s cronies in Moscow. According to Inozemtsev, “China is interested in using Russia but not in developing it: the largest industrial power of the world does not have any reason to support the establishment on its northern border of new industrial centers. As a result, today, Russian exports to China are dominated by raw materials to an even greater degree than they are to the European Union.” If Moscow continues this approach, the economist argues, Russia “will not be able to modernize this region at any point in this century – and a recognition of this state of affairs is clearly playing into the hands of the LDPR … and the KPRF” even if neither is able to change things on the ground, at least not yet. Of course, even the change of local leaders will hardly be able to change the overall situation, “but the causes of the failures of ‘the party of power’ in a region which is much closer to the most economically dynamic region of the world” are clear to its voters if not yet to those in power in Moscow. “Russia thus has not turned to the East,” despite what Putin et al say. Instead, it is steering the country in the very same way in the east as it does in the west. But “now, on a ship that is proceeding in an unknown direction, the sailors are in revolt” – and that clearly is one of the most important messages of the September 9 elections.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: More than a Million Russians have Been Evacuated as Result of Anonymous Bomb Threats Over Last Year

Paul Goble Staunton, September 10 – Since the first anonymous telephone bomb threats emptied various facilities in the Siberian city of Omsk on this date a year ago, more than a million Russians have been evacuated from schools, stores and public buildings in cities and towns across the country, according to MBK journalist Anton Voronov. Officials still insist, he reports, that these threats were anonymous; but some suspect that at least on occasion, they may have been part of FSB training exercises. Moreover, such people say that many have suffered because the FSB, in response to such threats, has closed emergency exits in public buildings. In the case of the Kemerovo shopping center last spring, that led to 60 deaths ( The Omsk bomb threats which occurred in the wake of elections to the city council were both numerous and massive: more than 56 buildings were emptied and more than 7500 people were evacuated in the first day; and more in the following three days. Shortly thereafter similar calls in Perm led to the evacuation of about 130,000 people. On September 13, 2017, the first such threats hit Moscow. The callers said that bombs had been placed in Moscow railroad stations, in universities, and in trade centers. And immediately after that, a similar wave of 30 telephone calls took place in St. Petersburg. Thousands more people were evacuated. In the last quarter of 2017, in fact, anonymous callers made bomb threats about “approximately 2,000” locations in 75 subjects of the Russian Federation, Voronov reports. Much remains unclear about these telephone threats. Several months before the Omsk calls, a document appeared on line about “planned terrorist acts on the territory of Russia” (, Voronov says; and some regional FSB officials seconded this ( and But the FSB in Moscow continued to maintain that the evacuations were the result not of any exercise but of anonymous callers possibly from the Islamic State or Ukraine (, and officials have continued to make statements to that effect ever since. What the FSB is saying, Voronov suggests, may very well be true; but the agency has good reason to deflect attention from its role if indeed these were exercises. If they weren’t, then the FSB recommendations that led to closing emergency exits in shopping centers and the deaths in some of them can’t be blamed on ISIS or Ukraine. They rest on the Russian organs. And that is something the FSB and the Kremlin clearly want to avoid, especially given that there is a precedent for suggestions that the organs were behind this. Voronov notes that “the practice of unannounced training exercises were used in Russia earlier” as in 2016 when it was done at a medical college in Tikhviin in Leningrad oblast ( The threat to the authorities may have intensified after the evacuations in Moscow and St. Petersburg when more people began to pay attention to the problem of telephone bomb threats. “The official version remained telephone terrorism,” Voronov says. But even up to now, it is not clear why on the occasion of such a broad attack the population wasn’t told anything about it.” Some Duma deputies began talking about imposing criminal penalties on telephone terrorists, and a few cases were opened against people charged with related crimes. But the authorities did not talk much about these cases and did not point to any broader conspiracy behind the actions. Moreover, Voronov says, “the anonymous calls didn’t stop: More than that, in October 2017, a new wave … took place,” now directed at government buildings and the residences of senior officials. But still the government did not issue any statement. The FSB did say it knew who had made the calls but hadn’t yet arrested them ( On this anniversary of the first such telephone threats, the journalist concludes, many questions remain unanswered — and the lack of answers is only feeding suspicions and fears.

Putin Wants God (or at Least the Church) on His Side – To Inform is to Influence

One of the best overviews of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine vs. Russian Orthodox Church vs. the Eastern Orthodox Church, officially the Orthodox Catholic Church. The two winners of this battle will be the Orthodox Church of Ukraine and the Eastern Orthodox Church. The Russian Orthodox Church has already threatened to leave the Eastern Orthodox Church, which will hurt themselves the most. The Russian Orthodox Church’s self-excommunication would make the Russian Orthodox Church beholden to the Russian State and could be viewed as just another Russian tool. </end editorial>

Christopher Stroop | Putin Wants God (or at Least the Church) on His Side – Foreign Policy

A contest over the future of Christianity in Ukraine goes to the heart of Moscow’s ambitions.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Orthodoxy Recognizes Only Autocephalous Status Confirmed by Constantinople, Canon Law Expert Says

Paul Goble Staunton, September 10 – Moscow’s claims notwithstanding, Diodor Larionov, a specialist in canon law says, Orthodoxy has recognized only those churches as self-standing which have had that autocephalous status confirmed by the Universal Patriarchate in Constantinople. The Russian Orthodox Church has a history of ignoring that history, he continues; but every time it has done so, it has been ignored by all the rest of the Orthodox world ( In 1970, the ROC MP offered autocephaly to the American Orthodox Church, Larionov points out, but “not one” of the other Orthodox churches recognized this action. Moscow’s effort to offer autocephaly to Orthodoxy in Japan also failed, and the Japanese Orthodox Church has remained autonomous but within the Moscow Patriarchate. The case of the Czech Orthodox Church is particularly interesting and instructive, the Kazan-born, Greek-trained canon law specialist says. In 1948, the ROC MP gave it autocephaly but “not one” of the other Orthodox Churches recognized that action. The Czech church became autocephalous only in 1998 when Constantinople acted. Then, all other churches followed. In 2011, the Czech Church planned to celebrate the 60th anniversary of its autocephaly, but Constantinople explained to Prague that there could not be any such anniversary because only the ROC MP had offered it in 1951. And the Czechs backed down, recognizing that the ROC MP offer was in fact “a fiction.” One can add, Larionov continues, that “the overwhelming part of all autocephalies (besides the four ancient patriarchates and exceptions like the Georgian and Cypriot churches) – specially, the Russian, Serbian, Romanian, Bulgarian, Greek, Albanian, Polish and Czech – were granted by the Constantinople Patriarchate” and then recognized by everyone. “The Cypriot and Greek Churches have a separate meaning because they were given in the era of the Universal Assemblies: [they] were along with the Jerusalem Patriarchate divided out from the Antioch Patriarchate to which they had belonged.” Antioch could not make that decision, and so the assembly did. The Orthodox world consists of four ancient Patriarchates, “confirmed by the Universal Assemblies, and three autocephalies which were confirmed in the same way … then we have eight autocephalies which were offered by the Constantinople Patriarchate which the entire Orthodox world recognizes.” “We also have one autocephaly which the Moscow Patriarchate recognizes but that the rest of the Orthodox World – except for three churches at one time under the influence of the Moscow Patriarchate (Georgian, Czech and Polish) – does not,” Larionov says. Thus, in the absence of any possibility of convening a universal assembly today, only Constantinople has the power to gran autocephaly to any church. There is simply “no other way.” The reasons for this go back to the original assemblies which recognized first Rome and Constantinople and – after the split of 1054 – only Constantinople as having that right. This history has two important consequences in current circumstances. On the one hand, it means that Constantinople has the right to grant autocephaly to Ukraine and there is every reason to believe that all Orthodox Churches except the Russian will accept it as entirely legitimate. And on the other hand, it means that Russian claims about its right to have a voice in this matter “have no relationship to Orthodox canon law” and can be rejected out of hand, just as Patriarch Bartholemew has done.

The Brazen Tradecraft of Russia’s Novichok Operation | Intel Brief

On September 5, the U.K. charged two men it says are Russian military intelligence officers, with the March assassination attempt of a former Russian intelligence officer who had been serving as a double agent for the British. The following day, the U.S., France, Germany, and Canada issued a joint statement supporting the U.K. over its claims that Russia deployed a deadly nerve agent in the attack in Salisbury. The tradecraft used by the Russians was adequate to conduct the attack and suitable for the hind-sight counterintelligence threat environment, including CCTV surveillance. The after-the-fact evidence is irrelevant to the Kremlin, seemingly unconcerned about outrage or condemnation in the wake of the brazen attack. On September 6, the governments of the United States, Canada, France, and Germany issued a statement in support of the U.K.’s assessment of the direct culpability of the Russian government in the March 2018 attempted assassination of two Russian nationals on British soil. The statement is direct: ‘We have full confidence in the British assessment that the two suspects were officers from the Russian military intelligence service, also known as the GRU, and that this operation was almost certainly approved at a senior government level.’ The statement follows the September 5 announcement by the U.K. that it was charging two Russian nationals—using the likely aliases of Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov—with conducting the attempted murder of Sergei Skripal and Yulia Skripal on March 4, in Salisbury.

Vladimir Putin’s chilling threat to Novichok victim Sergei Skripal hints at personal vendetta – Mirror Online

Russian leader has been interested in Skripal’s movements since 2010 and when he issued a statement about the double agents he betrayed a personal vendetta

Novichok creator Vil Mirzayanov diagnosed with cancer | Daily Star

ONE of the creators of the controversial Novichok nerve agent has been diagnosed with stage three cancer.

Russia News: Novichok assassins could ALREADY be dead | Daily Star

VLADIMIR Putin may have already had the bungling Russian novichok assassins executed to distance the Kremlin from the Salisbury attack.

PM reinforces condemnation of Russia after Novichok suspects named | RNZ News

The Prime Minister insists New Zealand has been strong in its condemnation of Russia, after developments in the Novichok poisoning case in the United Kingdom.

Trump Adviser Threatens Syria With ‘Much Stronger’ Military Assault If It Uses Chemical Weapons

If Syria uses chemical weapons again, National Security Adviser John Bolton promised the U.S. would deliver a counterattack.

US warns Syria response will be ‘stronger’ than ever before if Assad uses chemical weapons again | Business Insider

U.S. Ramps Up Threats of Military Action Against Syria’s Assad – Foreign Policy

Administration worried about lingering Iranian and Russian influence in Syria.

U.S. Holds Talks With U.K., France on Possible Syria Strikes – WSJ

The U.S. is working with France and the U.K. on plans for a coordinated military strike in Syria if the regime uses chemical weapons in an expected offensive against the country’s last major rebel haven, President Trump’s national security adviser said.

Germany in talks with US on possibly joining airstrikes in Syria in the event of chemical attack: report | Fox News

The German Defense Ministry is reportedly in talks with the U.S. on potentially taking an active role in airstrikes in the event that Syria’s President Bashar al Assad uses chemical weapons in Idlib province.

Germany says in talks about possible military role in Syria | Reuters

The German government said on Monday it was in talks with its allies about a possible military deployment in Syria, prompting a sharp rebuke from the Social Democrats (SPD) and setting up a fresh conflict in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s loveless coalition.

Assad’s ‘Final Offensive’ in Syria May Be Postponed for Lack of Troops

Russia’s already bombing, but Syrian government troops are vastly outnumbered—and the Iranian and Hezbollah forces that Assad relied on in the past are holding back. ISTANBUL – The big Syrian government offensive to recapture rebel-held Idlib province—which the United Nations fears could cause the deaths of thousands and displace a million civilians—is on hold for want of forces on the ground to coordinate with Russian air power, according to military leaders in the Syrian opposition. The Syrian regime has at most 25,000 troops based in the region, including about 5,000 reinforcements, some of whom are conscripts drawn from surrendered rebel enclaves, whose reliability in battle remains to be tested. They will face more than 100,000 motivated defenders, many of whom were forced there from other regions and have nowhere else to go. But the critical missing element is Lebanese Hezbollah and Iranian-backed militias, which had served as President Bashar al-Assad’s ground force in Aleppo and the Damascus region after its army had largely collapsed due to desertions. There is no sign these militias are preparing for battle, and Iran appears to have little interest in joining in a bloody encounter with high casualties. “We can say the battle of Idlib has been postponed,” said Col. Fateh Hassoun, a defected Syrian army officer who has represented rebel interests at talks among Turkey, Russia, and Iran in the so-called Astana process. “Russia needs a ground partner for its warplanes,” he said. With the regime unable to provide the forces, and Iran apparently uninterested in the fight, the only other source of fighters might be the Kurds, but the People’s Protection Force or YPG is functioning as the U.S. ground component in the battle against the Islamic State in eastern Syria. Columb Strack, a Middle East analyst for HIS Market (the parent company of Jane’s defense publications), concurred that the offensive may well have been delayed. “It’s very likely to happen. It’s just a question of when,” he told The Daily Beast. And when it does, “it will be a slow-burning thing,” given the discrepancy in the size of the forces. “It will be step-by-step, retaking villages, one at a time, relying on indiscriminate airstrikes to displace or force their opponents to surrender.”

Rebels, Turkey prepared for battle, but assault could be delayed | Syria News | Al Jazeera

While Syrian forces and rebels step up preparations for battle for Idlib, sources say all-out attack may not start soon.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan | The World Must Stop Assad – WSJ

If the Syrian regime attacks Idlib, the result will be a humanitarian and geopolitical disaster.

Turkish President Warns Of Humanitarian Disaster In Idlib

Turkey’s president has warned of a humanitarian disaster if a Syrian government offensive on the rebel enclave of Idlib goes forward.

Erdogan calls on the world to stop Assad in Idlib

In an article published Tuesday in the Wall Street Journal, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on the international community to take action to

Erdogan Warns Russia, Iran Against Offensive In Syria’s Idlib Province

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned Russia and Iran that an attack by Syrian government forces and their allies on Idlib Province, the last rebel stronghold in the war-ravaged Middle …

Erdogan urges global community to avert Idlib assault

Turkish president writes article for U.S. daily where he evaluates latest developments in Syria’s Idlib – Anadolu Agency

Turkey warns attack on Syria’s Idlib would cause humanitarian disaster | Reuters

A Syrian government offensive in the country’s northern region of Idlib would cause humanitarian and security risks for Turkey, Europe and beyond, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday in an article in the Wall Street Journal.

Turkey Says Attacks On Syria’s Idlib Must Stop, As UN Fears Century’s ‘Worst Humanitarian Catastrophe’

Air and ground attacks on Syria’s Idlib Province must stop “immediately” and a cease-fire must be established in the rebel-held area, Turkish television quoted the country’s defense minister as say…

Cease-fire must be established in Idlib, Defense Minister Akar says – Daily Sabah

Air and ground attacks on Syria’s Idlib must stop and a cease-fire and stability must be established in the area immediately, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar…

Turkish aid officials fear border camps won’t cope with huge Idlib influx | Middle East Eye

Turkish Red Crescent official says aid staff are preparing tents for 90,000 people but expect many more to be ‘ready to survive by themselves’

Turkey sending 20,000 FSA militants to Idlib – pro-government newspaper | Ahval

Turkey ups the ante with new military convoy in Idlib (video)

BEIRUT, LEBANON (2:30 P.M.) – A Turkish military convoy arrived in Reyhanli in Turkey’s border province of Hatay on Sunday en route to the country’s

UN: Syria’s Idlib could face worst catastrophe this century – CBS News

&quot;There needs to be ways of dealing with this problem that don't turn the next few months in Idlib into… the biggest loss of life of the 21st century,&quot; official says

30,000 flee in Syria as UN fears century’s ‘worst’ crisis

Violence in northwest Syria has displaced more than 30,000 people this month alone, the United Nations said Monday, warning that a looming assault could create the century’s “worst humanitarian catastrophe”. Idlib province and adjacent rural areas form the largest piece of territory still

At least 30,000 Syrians flee Idlib after Russia and Iran-backed bombardments – Syria –

UN’s emergency coordinator says all-out military assault could provoke the worst humanitarian catastrophe of the 21st century

Syria: Rescuer hit in airstrike keeps filming the horror in Idlib – CNN

Anas al-Diab is used to being a rescuer, but on Friday he became a victim as Syrian airstrikes pounded Idlib province, the country’s last major rebel stronghold.

U.S. Officials: Assad Approved Gas Attacks for Upcoming Idlib Offensive

U.S. officials say Syrian dictator Bashar Assad has approved the use of chemical weapons in the battle for Idlib province.

Putin Is Pushing for Total Victory in Syria No Matter How Many Civilians Die

With Chechnya as his model, the Russian president is willing to level whole cities to enforce ‘peace.’ For Putin, civilian suffering is a tool to be exploited to win the war.

Erdogan Accuses U.S. Of Supplying Oil To Syrian Rebels |

Turkish President Erdogan has accused the United States of supplying crude oil to the Kurdish YPG rebels in Deir ez-Zor

Assad property law complicates Syrians’ plans to return home

BERLIN (AP) — Mohammed swipes the screen on his smartphone and zooms in on a street map showing a neighborhood in Aleppo.

US Navy fighter pilot receives valor award for shooting down Syrian jet in 2017 | Fox News

A U.S. Navy pilot received the Distinguished Flying Cross for shooting down a Syrian jet in 2017 — the first air-to-air kill for the U.S. military in 18 years.

Navy pilot honored for shooting down a Syrian attack jet – Business Insider

Navy pilot Lt. Cmdr. Mike “MOB” Tremel was honored this past weekend for shooting down a Syrian fighter jet last year, the service’s first air-to-air kill…

This Is Where Iran Defeats the United States – Foreign Policy

Iraq’s Kurdish kingmakers used to side with Washington. Now, Tehran seems like a more attractive partner.