Syrian Crisis Update 13th April 2018
This morning, the Russians are making the ridiculous claim that the chemical weapon attack in Douma that killed 100 people and injured 500 others was the work of a foreign power and they are pointing the finger at the UK.
US President Donald Trump has been briefed on military options and has talked with allies about those options but has yet to decide. There are unconfirmed reports about a disagreement on the US response between the Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and National Security Adviser John Bolton. There are also reports that back channel discussions with Russian have either floundered or failed.
There are unconfirmed reports suggesting that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Quds Force have evacuated eight bases in Syria. The UN Secretary General is warning that this conflict could rapidly escalate into a larger war.
Meanwhile this afternoon, Russia and the US, France, and especially the UK, continued their war of words at the UN and in the press after Russia’s claim that Britain fabricated or staged the Douma chemical attack. Syria has cautioned the West that it will defend itself if attacked and Iran warned that it was now in a direct confrontation with Israel.
As well, the US-led order of battle appeared to be firming up with the guided missile destroyers USS Donald Cook, French Navy Aquitaine, and UK HMS Duncan, along with the guided missile submarine USS John Warner all now in the Eastern Mediterranean. The USS Winston Churchill has just reportedly entered the Western Mediterranean. There are reports of at least one British and one other US guided missile or attack submarine in attack range. Additionally, the UK has six Typhoon and eight Tornado fighter-bombers with stand-off missiles at the British air base in Cyprus. In Jordan, the French have four Rafale fighter aircraft at Prince Hassan and the US has 12 F-15 fighters at Mowafaq al Salti air bases. The US has six B-1 strategic bombers in Qatar at Al Adeid, six F-22 fighters in the UAE at Al Dafra and they are joined by six French Rafale fighter aircraft. The USS Harry Truman carrier strike group with five escorting warships left Norfolk Wednesday bound for the Mediterranean and the US has other long-range strike assets in Europe and the US that could be brought to bear on Syria if required for sustainment of air strikes or if escalation were to occur.
Russian currently has at least two Admiral Grigorovich-class frigates, two Kilo class submarines and support ships in the Eastern Mediterranean. There are approximately 12 SU-24M, four SU-30M, four SU-34, four SU-35S fighter and fighter-ground attack aircraft stationed at the Hmeymim airbase in Syria. Russia also has an advanced S-400 anti-aircraft system, which is believed to be capable of shooting down both warplanes and cruise missiles and Iskander-M short range ballistic missiles. Like the US, Russia has strategic bomber and warships with long-range missiles that can be brought to bear on targets in the Mediterranean region if escalation were to occur. It is important to note that in Israel’s recent air strike on the Syrian air field T4 that Russia claimed to have shot down five of eight Israeli missiles. Photos of the aftermath of the Israel strike strongly suggest many more than three missiles touched down on the Syrian target with considerable effect.