Russian army concentrates forces near Aleppo ahead of all-out assault

Russia has continued to build up forces north of the city of Aleppo over the past few days. Western and Middle Eastern sources monitoring the war in Syria estimate that this step is in preparation for an all-out assault by Russian, Syrian, Iranian and Hizballah forces on rebels in the northwestern city. The Russian command in Syria is said to be determined to capture Aleppo, purge the city of rebels and restore control by Syrian President Bashar Assad. Continue reading

Russian Military on Alert After Suspected Israeli Airstrike Destroys Russian Missiles in Syria

Tens of thousands of Russian troops have been placed on alert after a suspected Israeli airstrike destroyed advanced, Russian missiles recently delivered to Syria.

Last week, in the Syrian port city of Latakia, several pre-dawn explosions were reported to have destroyed advanced Russian missiles that had recently arrived and were being temporarily stored at the port. A spokesman for the opposition Free Syrian Army, describing the July 5 attack, said Tuesday that “It was not the FSA that targeted this. It is not an attack that was carried out by rebels.” The FSA spokesman, Qassem Saadeddine, went on to say “This attack was either by air raid or long-range missiles fired from boats in the Mediterranean.” The suggestion is that Israel was behind the attack. The Russian-made Yakhont anti-ship missiles, it is speculated, could have been considered a threat to Israel’s naval forces. Continue reading

Mali-based Islamists pledge attacks on French soil

Islamist fighters in northern Mali have pledged to strike “at the heart” of France, after a joint Malian-French offensive — which has entered its fourth day — began pushing back al Qaeda linked rebels controlling the region.

“France has attacked Islam. We will strike at the heart of France,” Abou Dardar, a leader of Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), one of the Mali-based groups with ties to al Qaeda, told the AFP news agency. Continue reading

Syria takes WMD out of storage: US: Situation incredibly dangerous

As part of its ongoing war maneuver, Syria Thursday, July 12, this week drilled the firing of advanced Scud D ballistic missiles capable of carrying chemical weapons and nerve gas – a clear message from Bashar Assad that weapons of mass destruction are now in play to save his regime.

debkafile’s military sources say that two developments drove the Syrian president Bashar Assad to this extreme threat:

1. The rebels were discovered to have procured roadside bombs capable of crippling the T-72 tank units he has just tried injecting into the battle for the first time this week. Tanks sent in long convoys into Aleppo and the suburbs of Damascus were blown up.

2.  The balance of war has reached the point that the government controls only those parts of the country where heavy military or security forces contingents with massive fire power are deployed; elsewhere, the rebels have the upper hand.

American officials revealed Thursday in Washington that “Syria has begun moving parts of its vast arsenal of chemical weapons out of storage facilities.” They didn’t say to where they were moved.

Some US officials are quoted by The Wall Street Journal as fearing “Damascus intends to use the weapons against the rebels or civilians, potentially as part of a targeted ethnic cleansing campaign.” Others hope it is a feint to inspire fear. Whatever the case, the alarmed US official said in Washington: This could set the precedent of WMD [weapons of mass destruction] being used under our watch” and is “incredibly dangerous to our national security.”

Full article: Syria takes WMD out of storage: US: Situation incredibly dangerous (DEBKAfile)

By securing Assad and its alliance, Iran gains upper hand for nuclear talks

Bashar Assad’s victory over the 12-month uprising to unseat him is unquestioned. With massive Iranian and Russian intelligence and military support, the Syrian army was able to push the rebels out of the cities – barring isolated pockets in Homs and Idlib – and drive them to the rural periphery, where they can’t hold up for long.

One observer, describing their situation as “undergunned and overwhelmed,” reported that Syria’s rebels have to negotiate for hours for every box of bullets they haul across the border for their war against Assad. “And their frustration is starting to show.”

Tehran, Damascus and Hizballah are crowing over their success in derailing the Obama administration’s two-pronged policy for halting a nuclear Iran. It hinged on Tehran’s isolation by unraveling its alliance with Damascus and Hizballah and economic pressure through tough financial sanctions and an oil embargo.

Iran has come out of the woods firmly in position at the head of its bloc, now cemented by Assad’s defeat of his foes. Tehran’s hand is much strengthened for the coming nuclear talks between Iran and the Six Powers due to start in two weeks. Washington will have to pay for any Iranian concessions by starting the process of unwinding sanctions.

Full article: By securing Assad and its alliance, Iran gains upper hand for nuclear talks (DEBKAfile)

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