Syrian Crisis Update 12th April 2018
French President Emmanuel Macron has said that his government has proof that the Assad regime was behind the chemical weapon attack on Douma. France and the UK continue to ready aircraft and to position warships in the region to strike Syrian targets, and France has given advanced notice that it will target known chemical weapons facilities. The UK has reportedly directed British Tomahawk carrying Trafalgar and Astute class attack submarines to move into position to strike Syrian targets if a decision is made to attack. It was just announced that the UN Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has upheld British findings that Russian agents employed Novichok nerve agent to kill a Russian émigré and his daughter in Salisbury, UK. Two US cruise missile carrying destroyers have now taken up position to carry out strikes, along with an unknown number of US attack submarines, and American aircraft already in the region.
It was reported this morning, that the Syrian military has repositioned some air assets to avoid the ‘turkey shoot’ of last April that saw the Syrian air Force lose one fifth of their aircraft. There are reports that Syria is locating its military aircraft alongside Russian aircraft and equipment to deter Washington and limit damage from air strikes. Satellite imagery suggests all 11 Russian warships in the Syrian Port of Tartus have put to sea.
This afternoon, it was reported that more than 100 people, mostly women and children, died in this past weekend ‘s Assad regime chemical weapons attack on Douma. Over 500 more were injured in the Douma attack geared to force the surrender of Jaish al-Islam, its withdrawal from the area, and for Syrian government forces to retake Eastern Ghouta. Very sadly, the attack must be viewed as a tactical success on the ground in Eastern Ghouta as it has clear the area of anti-government opposition forces and eases the situation in the capital, Damascus. It has also been reported that blood and urine samples from victims of the attack show traces of both Chlorine and a nerve agent believed to be Sarin.
In related news, US Defense Secretary was expected to deliver final military options to President Trump this afternoon. It is believed that eight specific targets have been ear marked for attack by US, French, and British forces including two Syrian airfields, a research center and a chemical weapons facility. There are unconfirmed reports that Russia will receive advanced warning of US-led strikes as they did before last April’s attack on the Syrian airfield viewed as the launch point for the nerve gas attack on Khan Sheikoun. Unconfirmed reports suggest that President Assad of Syria has flown to Iran for discussions in Tehran. Similar reports about Assad leaving Syria appeared several days ago in the aftermath of the Douma attack and then never materialized. Russia has threatened to target any British attack submarines that join in the strikes against Syria. There are reports that China will stage live fire drills in the Taiwan Straits to show solidarity with Russia, Iran and Syria.