US on alert as Syrian regime prepares for assault on final rebel stronghold

Amid increasing signs the Syrian regime is heading for an ...

Posted: Aug 28, 2018 8:33 PM
Updated: Aug 28, 2018 8:33 PM

Amid increasing signs the Syrian regime is heading for an all-out assault on Idlib, the last rebel stronghold in the country, US military and intelligence officials are watching for any indications the regime is moving chemical weapons into the area for possible use against civilians, according to several US officials.

They are worried the regime, faced with potential heavy resistance in the area, will turn to chlorine-filled helicopter-launched barrel bombs as it has in the past.

Armed forces

Biological and chemical weapons

Continents and regions

Eastern Europe

Europe

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

Government departments and authorities

Idlib

Intelligence services

International relations and national security

Middle East

Middle East and North Africa

Military

Military operations

Military weapons

National security

North America

Rebellions and insurgencies

Russia

Syria

Syria conflict

The Americas

United States

Unrest, conflicts and war

Weapons and arms

Weapons of mass destruction

Bashar al-Assad

Political Figures - Intl

"The Syrian regime retains chemical weapons, and could use them again, particularly if it launches a large-scale offensive in Idlib," a national security council official told CNN.

Officials say they don't have confirmed evidence of chemical weapons movement yet. However, the regime has now moved some of its most highly trained and equipped elite infantry forces into an area just south of Idlib in addition to thousands of forces already in the region, according to US officials. One of the military concerns, US officials say, is if all-out fighting occurs, the area is so close to the Turkish border that combat aircraft from Syria, Russia, Turkey and even the United States could encounter each other.

The level of concern has heightened over the last few days as Russia has increased social media activity claiming the US and its allies are preparing to carry out airstrikes under the pretext of chemical weapons use by the regime.

In one tweet, the Russian Ministry of Defense said the US, France and United Kingdom were 'preparing" to carry out new strikes in Syria. In another, the Russian Embassy in the US said the US is "building up the group of cruise missile carriers in the Middle East region, connected with the preparation of a regular provocation with an alleged 'use of chemical weapons' in the province of Idlib."

US officials have pushed back against the Russian government's claim that the US is attempting to manufacture an excuse to strike the Syrian regime.

In the past, Russian social media accounts have published accusations against the US so that if a military strike happened, they could have someone to blame, US officials say.

In a response to Russian claims the US is building up a Navy presence in the eastern Mediterranean to attack Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon said, "What I can tell you is that Russian reports of a US military buildup in the Eastern Med are nothing more than propaganda. It's not true. That does not mean, however, that we are unprepared to respond should the President direct such an action."

The Pentagon is taking a very public line against Russian claims and the Syrian regime's troop movements.

"We remain concerned over open-source reports of a potential military offensive by the Syrian regime against civilians and civilian infrastructure in Idlib, which would result in devastating humanitarian consequences," Pahon said. "We also underline our concern at the potential for further -- and illegal -- use of chemical weapons."

On the issue of potential airstrikes, the US is strongly warning the Syrian regime not to use chemical weapons, a message clearly being heard in Moscow, given the tweets. US officials say they are hoping that Russia will act to keep things calm in the region, but acknowledge that if it comes to potential action, the Russians will publicly support Assad.

During a meeting in Geneva last week, US national security adviser John Bolton warned his Russian counterpart, Nikolai Patrushev, that the US will hold Assad accountable if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad uses chemical weapons in an attempt to retake Idlib province, according to an NSC official.

Bolton also issued a public warning, saying in Israel last week, "We are obviously concerned about the possibility that Assad may use chemical weapons again." Bolton added, "just so that there is no confusion here, if the Syrian regime uses chemical weapons, we will respond very strongly. And they really ought to think about this a long time before they come to any decision because there is no ambiguity in the US position on this point."

Huntsville
Few Clouds
76° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 76°
Florence
Scattered Clouds
79° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 74°
Feels Like: 83°
Fayetteville
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 75°
Decatur
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 83°
Scottsboro
Broken Clouds
75° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 75°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 48588

Reported Deaths: 1042
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson5687161
Mobile4315136
Montgomery4275109
Tuscaloosa238248
Marshall181511
Madison16208
Lee146337
Shelby141424
Morgan11575
Baldwin10399
Walker101825
Elmore97519
Dallas9189
Franklin90616
Etowah83413
DeKalb7905
Chambers64727
Autauga64312
Butler63728
Tallapoosa60669
Russell5890
Unassigned53826
Houston5366
Limestone5251
Lauderdale5146
Cullman4905
Lowndes47922
Pike4525
Colbert4426
St. Clair4402
Escambia4358
Calhoun4035
Coffee3923
Covington38110
Bullock36910
Barbour3622
Jackson3432
Talladega3337
Dale3261
Marengo32011
Hale31722
Wilcox2958
Clarke2876
Sumter28512
Winston2773
Chilton2762
Blount2581
Monroe2442
Pickens2446
Marion24114
Randolph2289
Conecuh2187
Macon2029
Choctaw19912
Bibb1981
Greene1888
Perry1791
Henry1403
Crenshaw1253
Washington1217
Lawrence1130
Cherokee1117
Geneva860
Lamar801
Fayette721
Clay692
Coosa601
Cleburne391
Out of AL00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 55986

Reported Deaths: 685
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby12549208
Davidson12234132
Rutherford323437
Hamilton300736
Sumner172755
Williamson151515
Trousdale15035
Knox13929
Out of TN12307
Wilson106017
Putnam9267
Robertson87511
Bradley8744
Sevier8573
Unassigned8302
Lake6960
Tipton6625
Bledsoe6241
Montgomery6207
Bedford5898
Macon5114
Maury4063
Hamblen3974
Hardeman3744
Fayette3443
Madison3392
Loudon3021
Rhea2930
Blount2723
Dyer2703
McMinn25518
Cheatham2432
Dickson2310
Washington1970
Cumberland1934
Lawrence1926
Anderson1662
Lauderdale1643
Sullivan1592
Jefferson1481
Gibson1471
Monroe1416
Smith1362
Coffee1320
Greene1222
Hardin1197
Obion1172
Cocke1160
Haywood1082
Franklin1013
Marshall1011
Warren1000
Hickman950
Wayne900
Marion874
McNairy841
Lincoln780
Giles771
White773
Carter751
Roane710
DeKalb700
Overton671
Weakley671
Hawkins662
Grundy652
Campbell621
Claiborne590
Henderson560
Unicoi560
Carroll491
Chester480
Grainger480
Polk480
Henry470
Crockett443
Johnson440
Sequatchie420
Cannon410
Humphreys352
Perry350
Meigs340
Jackson330
Morgan291
Fentress250
Stewart250
Decatur240
Scott210
Union190
Clay180
Moore170
Houston160
Benton131
Hancock90
Lewis70
Van Buren70
Pickett60

 

 

Community Events