On March 17, the Russian General Staff warned about an imminent attack on Syria. The statement did not elaborate. Of course, some information is classified but an independent and impartial analysis of publicly available information leads one to the same conclusion. Let’s look at the facts.
There are warships deployed by US Navy in the Red Sea, the Mediterranean, and the Persian Gulf. They are ready to launch roughly 400 long-range Tomahawks against a target in the Middle East on any given day. Sea-launched cruise missiles were used to strike Syria in April. Anything that is at all related to the military operations on the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean is hush-hush information, but it’s an open secret that the strategic bombers based there can launch at least a hundred cruise missiles and then use other high-precision munitions in a follow-up attack. On average, one bomber carries 20 AGM-86 ALCMs. Five bombers are believed to be normally stationed on this island that is off-limits to inquisitive outsiders. This means that at least 500 cruise missiles can be fired on short notice.
On March 17, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov declared that Great Britain, France, and some additional countries besides the US had special forces operating in Syria that were engaging the Syrian Army directly. But it’s not just commandos.
It was reported on March 16 that the UK would be stationing a significant number of troops at the US-controlled Al-Tanf military base, adjacent to the Iraqi border. This facility is prominently eatured in NATO’s war planning in Syria. It blocks the corridor linking Iran to Lebanon via Syria and Iraq. The size of the deployment — about 2,300 troops accompanied by tanks and helicopters — is too significant just to be intended to fight Islamic State militants who are already on the run.
On March 12, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley threatened military action against Syria. Experience has shown that the US will strike first and think about explanations later. It’ll no doubt “invent” some pretext to justify its actions.
Tensions have risen since last week. For instance, the mainstream media raised a ruckus over a mysterious “large underground” North Korean military base in Syria! This story about Pyongyang helping Syria to rebuild its chemical stockpiles and other urban legends are going viral.
The escalation coincided with the March 16 meeting between the Russian, Iranian, and Turkish foreign ministers in Astana to discuss further plans to bring peace to Syria, including expanding the concept of the de-escalation zones. That meeting laid the ground for a summit in Istanbul on April 4. There are about two weeks still to go. This top-level event could produce landmark decisions that might foil the West’s plans in Syria. Not much time is left. From the American perspective, this calls for urgent action to stymie that process.
Washington’s plan includes the goal of partitioning Syria in such a way that a large chunk of it would remain under the control of the US-led coalition. The Americans are already assembling municipal councils on the lands east of the Euphrates River. This area must be retained at any cost in order to ensure that Washington has a say in the future settlement of this war-torn country, otherwise all the hard work put in so far will go down the drain, undercutting America’s global standing and diminishing its clout in the Middle East. Losing Syria would be tantamount to suffering a major defeat in its confrontation with Iran, which it considers its arch-enemy. The plans include a rollback of Russian forces. Syria is the right place to do that. If the Russian military is openly warning the world of an imminent strike, that is a serious threat. And it does not look like a one-strike operation. This time we’re in for something much more serious — a large-scale operation to “contain” Russia, beat back Iran, win the support of the rich oil-exporting Arab nations and make them pay huge sums for American weapons, and show the world the US is omnipresent and adamant in its desire to dictate its will.