Syria repositions military assets as Trump 'telegraphs' plans for possible missile strikes

Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain R-Ariz. pauses before speaking to reporters during a meeting of the National Defense Authorization Act conferees on Capitol Hill in Washington Wednesday Oct. 25 2017

Syria repositions military assets as Trump 'telegraphs' plans for possible missile strikes

Stepping up the pressure on Syria's president, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley indicated the sanctions to be announced Monday would be aimed at sending a message to Russian Federation, which she said has blocked six attempts by the U.N. Security Council to make it easier to investigate the use of chemical weapons.

In addition to having two destroyers nearby, it is possible the US also has unacknowledged submarines positioned off the coast of Syria ready to fire satellite-guided, highly precise Tomahawk cruise missiles - the very type of smart missiles the president tweeted about.

Trump and other Western leaders have vowed a quick and forceful response to Saturday's alleged gas attack, which rescue workers say killed more than 40 people in the rebel-held Damascus suburb of Douma, reports AFP. There is an urgent need to protect the world from a trajectory on which predatory and rogue regimes are emboldened to break the longstanding taboo on chemical weapons.

Fifteen months into Donald Trump's presidency, the United States finds itself on the cusp of a grave constitutional emergency at home - and closer to stumbling into direct conflict with Russian Federation than at any time since the Cold War. The White House said it was continuing to assess intelligence and talk to its allies on how to respond.

Trump was using another acronym for Daesh terror organization.

"As bad as the news is around the world, you just don't see those images", Trump said Monday, in one of a series of tweets and public remarks that appeared to telegraph the strikes.

Any strike will be in defiance of warnings from Russian Federation of "dire consequences" if its Middle East ally is attacked.

Global observers with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons have yet to reach the Damascus suburb of Douma, where the attack took place.

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When pressed, he acknowledged some unspecified portion of Mr Assad's chemical arms infrastructure was not targeted.

"There is still a residual element of the Syrian program that is out there", McKenzie said, adding, "I'm not going to say they're going to be unable to continue to conduct a chemical attack in the future. I suspect, however they'll think long and hard about it".

Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said missiles first struck a scientific research centre in the Damascus area that he said was a centre of Syrian research, development, production and testing of chemical and biological warfare technology. "It does not exist anymore".

The U.S. also has stealth F-22 fighter jets stationed in Qatar which could be used to evade the Syrian regime's Russian-made air defense systems, but the use of piloted aircraft comes with a substantial risk as those systems are considered very capable, Kirby said.

"New, stealthy JASSM missiles could be delivered by B-1B and B-52 (and now likely F-15E and F-16)", Mount said.

"We should all be outraged at these horrific reports and images from Douma", said Peter Salama, the United Nations agency's chief of emergency response.

The U.N. Security Council, tasked with maintaining global peace and security, has been riven, with Moscow virulently denying the Douma attack took place, or postulating that it was carried out by rebels.

Pushkov added that the U.S. can not reverse or change the conflict in Syria without sending several tens of thousands of its soldiers there.

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A former officer in Syria's chemical program, Adulsalam Abdulrazek, said Saturday the joint U.S., British, and French strikes hit "parts of but not the heart" of the program.

That assault prompted the U.S. to launch several dozen Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian air base.

The United States, Britain and France have argued the incident bears all the hallmarks of a strike ordered by the regime, which has been blamed for previous attacks by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

Rebels have now been evacuating the town under an agreement involving the Russian military.

He criticised the USA and its allies for launching the strike without waiting for global inspectors to complete their visit to the area.

Trump spoke Thursday with key allies French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Theresa May.

At the House hearing, Democrats grilled Mattis on the wisdom and legality of Trump ordering an attack on Syria without explicit authorization from Congress. Mattis argued it would be justified as an act of self-defense, with 2,000 US ground troops in Syria; he insisted he could not talk about military plans because an attack "is not yet in the offing".

America has deployed its Carrier Strike Force USS Harry Truman from Norfolk, Virginia, along with other warships.

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