Moscow acted swiftly to boost its ties with Tehran and beef up the Syrian military in reaction to the US-British-French surgical missile strike on Syria’s chemical sites on Saturday, April 12. DEBKAfile’s analysts report that when Russian and Iranian officials warned of “consequences,” they were already on the move:
- Saturday morning, while cruise missiles rained down on Syrian chemical sites, a Syrian-Hizballah force, backed by Russian mercenaries, renewed their push to cross the Euphrates River and snatch from US control the east Syrian Konok gas and Al-Umar oil fields. There were initial clashes with the US-backed Syrian Democratic Army (SDF). Two days earlier, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s close adviser Ali Akbar Velyati pointed the way when he told a news conference in Damascus: East of the Euphrates is “a very important area. We hope big steps will be taken in order to liberate this area and expel the occupying Americans.
- While media reports abounded about Moscow’s non-reprisal for the US-led attack, Moscow was quietly getting ready to confront the US and its allies. Heavy Russian strategic Tu-95 and Tu-22M bombers were deployed Thursday to air bases in Iran, thereby cutting their flying time to Syria and Iraq by at least four hours; and Russian freighters were transiting the Bosporus Straits Friday and Saturday in full sight of intelligence surveillance, laden with new military equipment for the Syrian army. Continue reading