Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Syria- countdown to war - 10/04/2016


Towards confrontation in Syria – Americans consider strikes against Damascus, Russians prepare for war

For an Israeli view of unfolding events in Syria this is worth listening to. I find this both obnoxious and informative at the same time. Since they are so close to things I think it behooves us to keep an eye on perceptions from that quarter.



Russian embassy in Damascus shelled from terrorist-controlled area of Syria




The Russian embassy in Damascus came under fire on Tuesday from a neighborhood controlled by militant groups, including Al-Nusra Front, the

Al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front fighters © Stringer‘Deal with the devil’: US ‘ready to ally with terror’ to overthrow Assad – Russia Foreign Ministry
One of the mortar shells fired at the embassy complex hit the residential area, while two others landed near the embassy building, the ministry said in a statement. Nobody was injured by the explosions.

According to reports, the shelling came from the Jobar neighborhood of Damascus, which is under control of the terrorist groups Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and Failak ar-Rahman,” the ministry said.

Jabhat Fateh al-Sham is the new name taken by Al-Nusra Front, the Al-Qaeda offshoot universally considered a terrorist organization. Failak ar-Rahman is a lesser-known Islamist group.

Moscow said the shelling is “result of the actions of those who, like the US and some of its allies, provoke the continued bloodshed in Syria and flirt with militants and extremists of all flavors.”

The ministry said Russia would take “all necessary measures” to return peace and security to Syria.

The Russian embassy in Damascus has come under militant fire on several occasions. The Syrian capital remains under threat despite the efforts of the army to fend off armed groups.

Russia deploys advanced anti-missile system to Syria for first time


fotshot / Pixabay

Russia has deployed an advanced anti-missile system to Syria for the first time, three US officials tell Fox News, the latest indication that Moscow continues to ramp up its military operations in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad.
It comes after Russia’s actions led to the collapse of a cease-fire and the cut-off of direct talks with the U.S.
While Moscow’s motives are not certain, officials say the new weapon system could potentially counter any American cruise missile attack in Syria.
Components of the SA-23 Gladiator anti-missile and anti-aircraft system, which has a range of roughly 150 miles, arrived over the weekend “on the docks” of a Russian naval base along Syria’s Mediterranean coastal city of Tartus, two US officials said.
It is the first time Russia has deployed the SA-23 system outside its borders, according to one Western official citing a recent intelligence assessment. The missiles and associated components are still in their crates and are not yet operational, according to the officials.



Moscow delivers S-300 missile system to Syria for defense of Russian naval base


© Kirill Kallinikov
© Kirill Kallinikov / Sputnik

A battery of Russian S-300 air defense missile launchers has been transported to Syria, Russia’s Defense Ministry said in a statement. Its sole purpose is to defend a Russian naval base and warships, the ministry dded.

The information about the S-300’s deployment was confirmed by ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov.


Indeed, the Syrian Arab Republic received an S-300 anti-aircraft missile system. This system is designed to ensure the safety of the naval base in [Syrian city of] Tartus and ships located in the coastal area [in Syria]…” he told the media.
Konashenkov said it is unclear why the deployment of the missile system has created such a fuss in the West.

The S-300 is a purely defensive system and poses no threat,” he said.
He recalled that before the deployment of S-300, Russia had delivered Fort air defense missile systems to Syria.

The statement comes after a report by Fox news that a Russian S-300 was deployed to Syria. The media cited three US officials who claimed that Moscow “continues to ramp up its military operations in Syria.”

In November 2015, Moscow deployed its newest S-400 air defense missile system to Khmeimim in Syria as part of a security boost following the downing of a Russian jet by Turkey near the border with that country. At the time, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the S-400 systems are not targeting Russia's partners, “with whom we fight terrorists in Syria together.”


The S-400 is the most advanced anti-aircraft defense system in Russia.




RT,
3 October, 2016

Russia has suspended a post-Cold War deal with the US on disposal of plutonium from decommissioned nuclear warheads. The decision was explained by “the hostile actions of the US” against Russia and may be reversed, if such actions are stopped.

A decree signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin cites “the radical change in the environment, a threat to strategic stability posed by the hostile actions of the US against Russia, and the inability of the US to deliver on the obligation to dispose of excessive weapons plutonium under international treaties, as well as the need to take swift action to defend Russian security” as justification for suspending the deal.

While Russia suspended the plutonium reprocessing deal, it stressed that the Russian fissile material, which was subject to it, would not be used for any military purpose, be it production of new weapons or research.

The suspension decree has come into force, but it needs to be approved by the Russian parliament, which may overrule the president’s decision. Leonid Slutsky, who’s slated to be appointed head of the Foreign Relations Committee in the newly-elected parliament, said it would be given a priority.

It’s a very important issue. It’s about taking swift action to protect Russian national security. We will deal with it as soon as the bill is submitted,” he told TASS.

A bill submitted by the president’s office to the parliament on Monday states that the uranium agreement may be resumed, provided the US takes steps to eliminate the causes of the suspension. In particular, Moscow wants Washington to curb its military presence on the territories of NATO members which have joined the alliance after September 1, 2000, to the number at which they were at the moment of signing the agreement, Russian media report.

The draft bill also mentions repeal of the so-called Magnitsky law and of sanctions against Russian regions, persons and companies introduced by the US over Ukrainian crisis, while also paying compensation for damages caused by them, including the damages caused by the counter-sanctions that Russia was forced to impose.

The Magnitsky Act is a 2012 US law intended to punish a number of Russian citizens believed to be linked to the death in custody of Russian lawyer Sergey Magnitsky.

Moscow also wants Washington to provide a clear plan how it is going to irreversibly reprocess plutonium under the agreement’s conditions.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov later said in a statement that Russia’s suspension of the agreement is “a forced measure.” According to the minister, Moscow has always viewed the Russia-US deal on plutonium disposal as an important step to nuclear disarmament.

Unfortunately, in recent years the US has made a number of unfriendly steps towards Russia. In particular, under false pretexts, Washington introduced large-scale economic and other sanctions against Russia,” he said. “The US has started the build-up of its military forces and NATO infrastructure close to Russia’s borders. Washington and its allies openly talk about ‘restraining’ Russia.”

Lavrov added that Russia’s move “is a signal to Washington”:

Trying to talk with Russia using strength, the language of sanctions and ultimatums, and still maintain selective cooperation with our country only in those areas where it is beneficial for the US, won’t work,” he added.

The development was not entirely surprising, since Russia earlier expressed its dissatisfaction with how the US wants to handle plutonium reprocessing.

Washington decided it would be cheaper to mix nuclear materials with special diluents. Russia insisted that the US was violating the terms of the deal, which required it to use a nuclear reactor to transmute plutonium. Unlike the mixing technology, the latter method makes the process irreversible.

The treaty between the US and Russia, which regulates how the two countries are to dispose of plutonium from nuclear warheads decommissioned as part of the parallel reduction of the two countries’ Cold War arsenals, was signed in 2000. Each country was required to dispose of over 34 tons of fissile material by turning it into so-called MOX fuel and burning it in nuclear reactors.


However, costs for building a facility at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina, where the US was supposed to fabricate MOX fuel from its plutonium, spiraled out of control. Under the Obama administration, the US decided that it would instead use the cheaper reversible process, arguing that it was in line with the spirit of the deal with Russia.

Russia expressed its concerns over the unilateral move in April, shortly after a nuclear security summit held in the US.

We signed an agreement that the plutonium will be processed in a certain way, for which facilities would be purpose-built,” Putin said at the time. “We have met our commitments, and constructed the necessary facilities. The US has not.”


The US rejected the criticism from Russia. The “new US method would not require renegotiation of the agreement,” US State Department spokesperson Jennifer Bavisotto said.

Russia:US failed to fulfil their side of Syria ceasefire plan - Zakharova to RT




Speaking exclusively to RT in Moscow on Tuesday, spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova stated that the US had said they had "no possibilities to influence moderate opposition" from the very beginning of the now-defunct Russia-US Syria ceasefire agreement.




Zakharova said that, as part of the recent ceasefire deal, Russia and the US had "two main tasks," namely "separation of al-Nusra and moderate opposition" and pulling back forces from Castello Road. According to Zakharova, the US failed to fulfil their side of the deal.


By Josh Rogin


U.S. military strikes against the Assad regime will be back on the table Wednesday at the White House, when top national security officials in the Obama administration are set to discuss options for the way forward in Syria. But there’s little prospect President Obama will ultimately approve them.....

The options under consideration, which remain classified, include bombing Syrian air force runways using cruise missiles and other long-range weapons fired from coalition planes and ships, an administration official who is part of the discussions told me. One proposed way to get around the White House’s long-standing objection to striking the Assad regime without a U.N. Security Council resolution would be to carry out the strikes covertly and without public acknowledgment, the official said.


I do not consider for a single minute that these are 'routine' drills.



© mchs.gov.ru
This week Russian authorities are conducting massive civil defense training involving 40 million people nationwide. The drill comes amid a spike in tensions between Russia and the US after the collapse of the two nations’ cooperation in Syria.

The four-day exercise launched on Tuesday includes 200,000 rescue professionals. Almost 50,000 vehicles are part of the drill.

Our priority during the drill is to train evacuation of the civilian population from potentially-risky areas,” Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puchkov, who oversees all civil defense in Russia, told Interfax.

The drill is meant to test coordination between federal, regional and local authorities, feasibility of contingency plans for emergencies, the state of civil defense infrastructure like shelters and emergency supply stockpiles, and other aspects of the system. Emergency services are expected to “prepare suggestions on how to improve our potential,” the minister said.

Exercises such as these are held annually in Russia since 2012. It is timed to October 4, which is Civil Defense Day in Russia.

This year’s exercise is not exceptional in terms of scale. For example, the drill of 2013 involved over 60 million people


Direct aggression by US against Damascus to cause 'tectonic shift' in Middle East - Moscow



RT,
1 October, 2016

If the US launches a military campaign to oust the Syrian government, it would further fracture the country and have tremendous negative long-term consequence for the entire region, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova warned.

If the US launches a direct aggression against Damascus and the Syrian Army, it would cause a terrible, tectonic shift not only in the country, but in the entire region,” Maria Zakharova said during a talk show, which is to be aired fully later on Saturday and has been cited by RIA.

With no government in Damascus, there will be a power vacuum in Syria, which “so-called moderates, who are, in reality, not moderate at all but just terrorists of all flavors, would fill; and there will be no dealing with them,” the diplomat predicted.

And later it would be aggravated the way it happened in Iraq. We know that [Saddam Hussein’s] Iraqi Army became the basis of the Islamic State. Everything that both the [US-led] coalition and Russia are fighting now stems from it,” Zakharova said.

Russia and the US are accusing each other over the collapse of the ceasefire which was signed last month, but has failed. The US says Moscow did not do enough to win the trust of rebel forces and to prevent the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad from attacking his opponents. Russia says Washington was incapable of separating ‘moderate rebels’ from terrorist groups and keeping them in check for the truce to take hold.

With the collapse of the deal, the Syrian government launched an offensive on rebel-held areas of Aleppo, a city divided between the Syrian Army and dozens of armed groups, including Al Qaeda off-shoot Al-Nusra Front.

The US acknowledged that it had not been going after Al-Nusra Front for months because the terrorists intermingled with ‘moderates’ and the civilian population. At the same time, it accused Moscow and Damascus of war crimes, citing civilian deaths caused by the renewed hostilities in Aleppo.

Russia has voiced concern that the US was deliberately shielding Al-Nusra Front from military action by Russia and Syria, hoping that the terrorist group would help oust the Syrian government.




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