PILOTS in one of the two Russian supersonic bombers intercepted near UK skies last week had started the countdown to arm a nuclear bomb, sources revealed last night.
The discovery was made after RAF specialists analyzed a four-second signal transmitted from one of the Tupolev Tu-160 bombers, known by Nato as “Blackjacks”, in the days following Thursday’s incursion.
Analysts at RAF Boulmer, Britain’s Control and Reporting Centre, confirmed that the Russian bombers had begun the sequence to arm nuclear weapons while carrying out the incursion.
It is not the first time they have done this and comparison with a similar signal transmitted by a TU-95 “Bear” bomber revealed Russian air crew had begun the countdown during an incursion last year, as well.
A senior Syrian military defector said President Bashar al-Assad’s forces were moving chemical weapons across the country for possible use in a military retaliation for the killing of four top security officials.
“The regime has started moving its chemical stockpile and redistributing it to prepare for its use,” said General Mustafa Sheikh, citing rebel intelligence obtained in recent days.
“They are moving it from warehouses to new locations,” he told Reuters in an interview in southern Turkey, close to the Syrian border. “They want to burn the country. The regime cannot fall without perpetrating a sea of blood.”
Sheikh said momentum gained by the rebels was prompting faster high-level defections and at least 100,000 soldiers have deserted out of the 320,000-strong military, almost double the numbers of only a few months ago. On Saturday a Turkish official told Reuters two Syrian brigadier-generals had fled to Turkey overnight.
“Every day there is attrition … the collapse of the regime is now accelerating like a snowball,” Sheikh said.
Full article: Syria moves chemical weapons before wider offensive: defector (Reuters)