Turkey and Jordan said preparing buffer zones inside Syria. Israeli air support mooted. Putin issues warning

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The Turkish and Jordanian armies were reported on June 30 to be getting ready to cross into Syria for the first time since war engulfed that country in 2011, and set up security buffer zones. Both are impelled to fight ISIS, oppose the Assad regime and anxious to stem the flow of refugees, but there are also differences in their objectives and it is not clear if they are coordinated.

Turkey has prepared 18,000 troops to carve out a buffer zone in northern Syria and use its air force to impose a no-fly zone against Syrian flights. Middle East sources report that the Jordanian army is also on the ready to cross into southern Syria. Jordan and Israel are reported to be planning joint air cover and the creation of a parallel no-fly zone in the south. Continue reading

US, UK, French elite units on standby for seizing Syrian chemical weapons

US C130 transports stand ready at Middle East air bases to fly into Syria US elite units especially trained in combat against chemical and biological weapons and tactics for securing their arsenals. Western intelligence sources reported Thursday, Aug. 23 that those units are on standby at bases in Israel and Jordan. Their assignments are to engage Syrian troops attempting to move those unconventional weapons systems to battle fronts or Hizballah and to prevent them falling into the hands of radical Islamic rebel fighters, especially Al Qaeda.

Those elite units have been issued with special equipment for chemical and biological warfare including anti-contamination suits. The transports are also fitted with purification equipment for operating in polluted terrain.

Also on standby for stealthy raids into Syria are British special operations forces in Cyprus and French units trained in unconventional warfare in Jordan. Thursday morning, President Obama talked by phone to British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande to wrap up the details of their combined operation in Syria, effectively the onset of direct Western intervention in the Syrian conflict.

Some – though not all – of the targeted stockpiles of shells and missile warheads are located around centers of the fiercest fighting in Syria’s civil war such as Aleppo in the north.  They may be inadequately guarded since the Syrian ruler may have been forced to throw the units securing them into battle against rebel forces.

Important stress was laid by Obama in his comments Monday on the fact that he had not ordered US military engagement in Syria “at this point.”  In other words, beyond that point, he was free to change that order. debkafile’s military sources report that direct American military involvement in the Syrian conflict has to all intents and purposes begun and looks like expanding in the coming days.

This is a sharp reversal of the military situation in the Middle East. It could lead to all-out warfare exploding in Syria possibly involving Hizballah ahead of a strike against Iran’s nuclear weapons, although this strike could unfold from the Syrian campaign – during its course or at its conclusion.

Washington is hoping that its direct action in Syria, aside from grappling with the unconventional warfare menace looming over the region, may persuade Tehran to cave into American demands for halting uranium enrichment and turn it aside from its race for a nuclear weapon in order to save itself from attack.

Full article: US, UK, French elite units on standby for seizing Syrian chemical weapons (DEBKAfile)

Exclusive: Obama weighs action to prevent Al Qaeda grabbing Syrian WMD

US President Barack Obama, though widely expected to pursue direct action against Syrian ruler Bashar following the Houla atrocity, is preoccupied with what he regards as a greater threat to the world: a potential grab for the huge Syrian stock of chemical and biological weapons by Al Qaeda’s or other terrorist organizations. This is reported exclusively by debkafile’s Washington and intelligence sources.

The US president is trying to persuade Russian President Vladimir Putin to accept his new plan for the immediate assignment by the UN Security Council of 3,000 armed monitors to Syria to take charge of the six chemical and biological stores. Another 2,000 will join the team later.

To allay Putin’s suspicions of a trick to insert Western armed forces into Syria against Moscow’s will, Obama suggested that most of the monitors would be Russian or nationals of governments lining up with its support of the Assad regime.

Obama warned Putin that the jihadists have never been so close to getting hold of large quantities of such deadly unconventional weapons, especially now that the Syrian army’s 4th Division, commanded by Assad’s brother Maher, which guards those stores, is additionally assigned with suppressing the revolt and therefore inadequately manned for securing them.

If the Russian President buys his plan for 5,000 international monitors to take over the security assignment, Obama hopes he will also persuade Assad and even Tehran to accept it.
Early Thursday, May 31, the US president held a video-conference call on the subject with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti, to brief them on his initiative and his talks with Putin.

The Russian president has not yet given Obama his answer, still suspecting an American ruse for placing Western troops inside Syria. Hence his spokesman’s statement Wednesday: “Russia is not considering changing its stance on Syria and any attempts to apply pressure on Moscow are hardly appropriate.”

Tehran, taking this to mean that Putin has not rejected Obama’s proposal, was put out enough for a forceful threat: “Western intervention in Syria would result in a regional upheaval that would undoubtedly engulf Israel,” said Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani. “It would spread to Palestine and ash rising from the flames would definitely engulf the Zionist regime…US military officials should be aware of their dangerous game.”
This was taken by sources in Washington as an Iranian threat to burn Israel if Obama’s plan to post 5,000 armed monitors in Syria goes through. Iranian sources told debkafile that the threat was aimed equally at deterring Putin from cooperating with it.

Full article: Exclusive: Obama weighs action to prevent Al Qaeda grabbing Syrian WMD (DEBKAfile)

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