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The latest news on Syria from Business Insider

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    Trump

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House says President Donald Trump will skip an upcoming summit in South America and will remain in the United States to "oversee the American response to Syria and to monitor developments around the world."

    White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement Tuesday that Trump will not attend the Summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru or travel to Bogota, Colombia as planned. Vice President Mike Pence will travel in his place. It's scheduled to begin April 13.

    Trump said Monday he would "forcefully" respond to an alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria and would soon decide how.

    The White House made the announcement about the schedule change a day after federal agents raided the office of Trump's personal attorney.

    SEE ALSO: Trump wants to beef up border security to 'knock the hell out of the drug flow' — but it could still miss most of the smuggling

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Watch the Queen make a joke about Trump’s helicopter — which makes Sir David Attenborough giggle


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    putin

    • Tensions are escalating between the US and Russia. 
    • The US imposed another wave of sanctions on dozens of Russian officials, oligarchs, and companies. 
    • Those sanctions have roiled Russian markets, and some think things could get a lot worse.

    It's been a disastrous week for Russian markets — and things could get much worse.

    Escalating tensions with Washington could send Russia spiraling into a "severe" economic slowdown, BMI analysts wrote in a note to clients Tuesday. 

    "Russia-US relations are at a recent low point and developments set the stage for additional deterioration," they wrote."Souring relations with the US and more broadly with the West, may lead to a larger slowdown in the Russian economy over the coming years than we currently anticipate."

    After the US Treasury Department rolled out new sanctions against Moscow last week, Russian stocks took their biggest dive in 4 years, with the benchmark MOEX Index sinking nearly 9%. Likewise, the Russian ruble is on its way to a 10% slide this week. 

    The sanctions target 17 Russian government officials, seven oligarchs with ties to the Kremlin, and the state-owned arms exporter Rosoboronexport. At least 12 other Russian companies, controlled by the affected oligarchs, are also getting hit. 

    As the US toughens its stance — the tally of recent economic penalties on Moscow is up to 189 — other countries are considering doing the same. And that would sting, especially in the case of further measures taken by the West.

    "In particular, the Russian economy remains heavily reliant on trade and investment inflows from the EU," the analysts wrote. 

    On top of that, threats of sanctions on the Kremlin's debt are casting a dark cloud over the Russian bond market. Earlier this year, the Treasury Department drafted a report to assess the impact of sanctioning Russian government bonds. 

    "Under this scenario, the Kremlin would face tough choices: returning to greater austerity, further depriving the economy of much needed stimulus, or accepting a heavier debt burden which could gradually undermine the country's long-term fiscal sustainability," the analysts wrote.

    Those fears are pressuring an already tense bond market. After yields spiked more than 25% this week, the Russian Finance Ministry cancelled a ruble-bond auction that was planned for April 11. 

    There's no clear end to US-Russia tensions in sight. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the most recent round of sanctions were meant to penalize the Kremlin for "malign activity" around the world — most recently by supplying materials to the Assad regime, which is accused of another chemical attack that killed at least 70 civilians in Duomo, Syria.  

    Still, a meeting between President Donald Trump and President Vladimir Putin is likely to take place in the future. 

    "We'll continue, as the president has said, he wants to have a good relationship with Russia, but that's going to depend on some of the actions by the Russians," White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters last week. 

    SEE ALSO: The Russian ruble is tumbling as US sanctions bite

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Wall Street's biggest bull explains why trade war fears are way overblown


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    Vladimir Putin

    • Russia has vetoed a U.S.-drafted U.N. resolution that would have condemned last weekend's suspected gas attack in Syria.
    • The vote Tuesday afternoon in the 15-member Security Council was 12 in favor.
    • Bolivia joined Russia in voting "no," and China abstained.


    BEIRUT (AP) — Russia has vetoed a U.S.-drafted U.N. resolution that would have condemned last weekend's suspected gas attack near Damascus and established a new body to determine responsibility for Syrian chemical weapons attacks.

    The vote Tuesday afternoon in the 15-member Security Council was 12 in favor, Bolivia joining Russia in voting "no," and China abstaining.

    U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said the United States "went the extra mile" to get Russian support for the resolution to ensure that a new investigative body would be impartial, independent and professional — things she said would not be guaranteed by a rival Russian resolution.

    Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia accused the United States of wanting the resolution to fail "to justify the use of force against Syria."

    He said the resolution was trying to recreate the old expert body, whose extension Moscow blocked in November. He called that body "a puppet in the hands of anti-Damascus forces."

    SEE ALSO: Nikki Haley says Russia's hands are 'covered in the blood of Syrian children' after alleged chemical attack

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    RQ 7 Shadow

    • Russia has reportedly deployed electronic warfare equipment that is successfully jamming small US military surveillance drones.
    • Department of Defense officials speaking to NBC News did not confirm if they lost any of the drones to crashes.
    • One official did say that the jamming is having an operational impact on military operations in Syria. 
    • Russian electronic warfare tactics have been observed in past war zones like Ukraine and have recently shown signs of getting more advanced. 


    The Russian military has deployed jamming tactics against US drones that have affected the US military's ability to operate in the region, NBC News reports.

    US officials told NBC News that the Russian military has been jamming smaller US drones. The jamming is focused on the GPS systems of drones, which can result in things like the operators not knowing where the drone currently is, to more extreme results like crashes. 

    Department of Defense officials speaking to NBC News did not confirm if they lost any of the drones to crashes as a result of the jamming, but one official did say that the jamming is having an operational impact on military operations in Syria. 

    The drones that have been targeted are smaller surveillance drones, and not the larger ones with strike capability like the MQ-1 Predator or the MQ-9 Reaper, according to NBC News. US military drones are encrypted and are supposed to have defenses against electronic counter measures, suggesting that Russian capabilities are more advanced than previously thought. 

    President Donald Trump is debating how the US will respond to Saturday's alleged chemical weapons attack in the Syrian city of Douma.

    Russian electronic warfare capability has long been observed by the West, especially since Russia annexed Crimea and supported the continuation of a war in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region. 

    Russian jamming equipment has been documented on the frontline on numerous occasions, and other elements of their electronic warfare capabilities have also been recorded.

    The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, an international security organization that has been monitoring the conflict in Ukraine, has also reported that the drones they use to monitor the frontline have been jammed multiple times.

    Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, then the commanding general for US Army Europe, said in in 2016 that he has seen Russian "electronic warfare capability at a tactical level that we absolutely don't have." 

    Russia's ally in Syria, Iran, also reportedly has hacking capabilities. In 2011 it claimed that it hacked into a US RQ-170 Sentinel and forced it to land after it gained access to its GPS.

    SEE ALSO: Here's every class of ship in the US Navy

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    NOW WATCH: Why Russia is so involved in the Syrian Civil War


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    us air strike

    • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly believes the US will order a military strike against Syria, a source told local media.
    • The potential strike would be in retaliation for the suspected chemical attack in Douma that killed and injured scores of people
    • Several moves indicate the region may be preparing for an air-based confrontation in the Middle East.


    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly believes the US will order a military strike Syria in retaliation for a suspected chemical attack on Saturday.

    A senior Israeli official told Israel's Channel 10 that in a closed security cabinet discussion on Monday, Netanyahu said he is anticipating a US strike. The Prime Minister's office has not confirmed or issued any comment on the report.

    The official told Channel 10 that Netanyahu's comment indicates his support of possible US military retaliation against Syria.

    Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a statement condemning the April 7 chemical attack, and squarely put blame on the Assad government.

    "The Syrian regime continues to perpetrate crimes against humanity in using these outlawed weapons. The latest attack joins a long series of similar attacks using chemical weapons perpetrated by the regime since Assad undertook to disarm from such weapons," the statement read.

    "The attack shows clearly that Syria continues to possess lethal chemical weapons capabilities and even to manufacture new ones. In so doing Syria is grossly violating its obligations and the decisions of the international community in this matter," it added. 

    Russian and Syrian forces have denied their involvement in the attack and have said that it was unclear if chemical weapons were even used.

    News of Netanyahu's expectation of a strike follows President Donald Trump's comments on Monday, when he said a decision would be made on how to respond to the attack in Syria "within 48 hours." Trump also spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron, and the two agreed to a "strong, joint response" if chemical weapon use was confirmed.

    There may be some indications of preparations for airstrikes

    air strike

    Several moves indicate preparations for an air-based confrontation in the Middle East may be occurring.

    On Monday, Syrian state media reported a military airfield was hit by an airstrikekilling four Iranian fighters. The US denied carrying out the reported attack, while Russia and Syria lobbed blame at Israel, which has not commented.

    Since then, there have been unconfirmed reports of US-coalition aircrafts spotted near the Syrian-Iraqi border and over Jordan.

    Eurocontrol, the EU's air traffic control agency, issued an alert on Tuesday evening (local time) warning flight operators about potential missiles in the region.

    "Due to the possible launch of air strikes into Syria with air-to-ground and/or cruise missiles within the next 72 hours, and the possibility of intermittent disruption of radio navigation equipment, due consideration needs to be taken when planning flight operations in the Eastern Mediterranean/Nicosia FIR area," a statement read.

    According to Al Jazeera, Syrian forces have been put on "high alert."

    The White House confirmed Trump has cancelled plans to travel to Peru for a summit "to oversee the American response to Syria" while US Defense Secretary James Mattis has also reportedly cancelled upcoming engagements.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Why Russia is so involved in the Syrian Civil War


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    Syria

    • Russia and the US, the world's two most powerful militaries and biggest nuclear powers, appear set to clash over a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria.
    • President Donald Trump told Russia to "get ready" for US missiles, and he is reportedly weighing a much bigger strike on Syria than the one last April, which did little long-term damage.
    • A Russian official threatened shooting down incoming US missiles and also targeting the platforms used to launch them, which could mean sinking US Navy ships.

    The US and Russia, the world's two most powerful militaries and biggest nuclear powers, appear set to clash over a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria, with President Donald Trump tweeting Wednesday for Russia to "get ready" for a US missile strike.

    "Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria," Trump tweeted. "Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and 'smart!' You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!"

    The first part of the tweet referred to comments by a Russian diplomat threatening a counterresponse to any US military action against the Syrian government, which the US and local aid groups have accused of carrying out several chemical weapons attacks on its own people.

    According to Reuters, Russia's ambassador to Lebanon, Alexander Zasypkin, told the militant group Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV that, "If there is a strike by the Americans," then "the missiles will be downed and even the sources from which the missiles were fired."

    Trump canceled a trip to South America over the latest suspected chemical attack, which killed dozens on Saturday, and is instead consulting with John Bolton, his new ultra-hawkish national security adviser. Trump and France have promised a strong joint response in the coming days.

    The president and his inner circle are reportedly considering a much larger strike on Syria than the one that took place almost exactly a year ago, on April 7, 2017, in which 59 US sea-based cruise missiles briefly disabled an air base suspected of playing a role in a chemical attack.

    This time Trump has French President Emmanuel Macron in his corner— but also acute threats of escalation from Syria's most powerful ally, Russia.

    "The threats you are proffering that you're stating vis-à-vis Syria should make us seriously worried, all of us, because we could find ourselves on the threshold of some very sad and serious events," Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, Vassily Nebenzia, warned his US counterpart, Nikki Haley, in a heated clash at the UN.

    The US wants a massive strike, but Russia won't make it easy

    s 400

    Syrian government forces present a more difficult target than most recent US foes. Unlike Islamic State fighters or Taliban militants, the Syrian government is backed by heavy Russian air defenses. Experts on these defenses have told Business Insider the US would struggle to overcome them, even with its arsenal of stealth jets.

    It was US Navy ships that fired the missiles in the April 7, 2017, strike. If Russia were to retaliate against a US Navy ship with its own heavy navy presence in the region, the escalation would most likely resemble war between the two countries.

    Vladimir Shamanov, a retired general who heads the defense affairs committee in Russia's lower house of parliament, would not rule out the use of nuclear weapons in an escalation with the US over Syria, saying only that it was "unlikely,"the Associated Press reports.

    The US has destroyer ships in the region, The New York Times reports, as well as heavy airpower at military bases around the region. While Russian air defenses seem credible on paper, they seem to have done nothing to stop repeated Israeli airstrikes all around Syria.

    US's and Russia's military reputations on the line

    f-22 f22 raptor inherent resolve arabian sea

    On both the Western and Russian sides of the conflict, credibility is on the line. The leaders of the US and France have explicitly warned against the use of chemical weapons, saying they will respond with force. Russia has acted as a guarantor of Syrian President Bashar Assad's safety in the face of possible Western intervention but has found itself undermined by several strikes from the US and Israel.

    Experts previously told Business Insider that an outright war with the US would call Russian President Vladimir Putin's bluff and betray his true aim of projecting power at low cost, while destroying much of his military.

    Additionally, the Syria government, backed by Russia, has struggled to beat lightly armed rebels who have lived under almost nonstop siege for the past seven years.

    For the US and France, failure to meaningfully intervene in the conflict would expose them as powerless against Russia and unable to abate the suffering in Syria even with strong political will.

    For now, the world has gone eerily quiet in anticipation of fighting.

    European markets dipped slightly Wednesday on expectations of military action, and the skies around Syria have gone calm as the pan-European air-traffic control agency Eurocontrol warned airlines about flying in the eastern Mediterranean because of the possibility of an air war in Syria within the next 48 hours.

    SEE ALSO: Here’s what would happen if US tried to strike Russian-backed targets in Syria

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    NOW WATCH: Why Russia is so involved in the Syrian Civil War


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    t4 air base homs

    MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Kremlin said on Wednesday it hoped all sides involved in Syria would avoid doing anything that could destabilize an already fragile situation in the Middle East and made clear it was strongly opposed to a possible U.S. strike on its ally.

    The United States and its allies are considering whether to hit Syria over a suspected poison gas attack that medical relief organizations say killed dozens of people in the rebel-held town of Douma near Damascus on Saturday.

    The Kremlin said on Wednesday allegations that Syrian government forces had carried out the chemical weapons attack were not based on real facts and said it wanted an impartial investigation into the incident.

    Asked about comments by Russia's ambassador to Lebanon who said that any U.S. missiles fired at Syria would be shot down and the launch sites targeted, the Kremlin said it did not want to comment on such matters.

    “As before, we would like to hope that all sides will avoid any steps that a) are not provoked by anything and b) could significantly destabilize an already fragile situation in the region,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a conference call with reporters.

    SEE ALSO: Trump is weighing a massive strike on Syria — and it could bring all-out war with Russia

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    tomahawk cruise missile

    • President Donald Trump threw down the gauntlet Wednesday morning by telling Russia to prepare for a US missile strike on Syria in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack blamed on the Syrian government.
    • A Russian diplomat had previously threatened to shoot down US missiles, and the platforms firing them, if the US attacked Syria.
    • But the Kremlin has urged caution, trying to talk the US down from a strike on Syria.

    President Donald Trump threw down the gauntlet Wednesday morning by telling Russia to prepare for a US missile strike on Syria in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack blamed on the Syrian government.

    "Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and 'smart!'"Trump tweeted. "You shouldn't be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!"

    The first part of Trump's tweet referred to comments by Russia's ambassador to Lebanon, Alexander Zasypkin, who effectively threatening to shoot down or sink any US planes or ships that open fire.

    "If there is a strike by the Americans," Zasypkin told the militant group Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV, then "the missiles will be downed and even the sources from which the missiles were fired."

    Vladimir Shamanov, a defense committee chairman in the Russian legislature's lower house, also said on Tuesday that the US would face "grave repercussions" for a strike on Syria.

    When the US struck a Syrian air base over a suspected chemical attack in April 2017, it used Tomahawk missiles launched from US Navy guided-missile destroyer ships.

    "The Russian military in Syria has air-defense systems theoretically capable of shooting down US Tomahawk missiles," Justin Bronk, an air-combat expert at the Royal United Services Institute, told Business Insider.

    But, according to Bronk, a large salvo of US missiles could overwhelm the defenses, which he said were "largely unproven in actual combat use."

    Also, because of the extremely high stakes a conflict between the US and Russia would entail, Bronk said Russia was "extremely unlikely to actually attack US ships or aircraft outside of Syrian territory, if at all."

    The Kremlin's official line has been to press for calm.

    "We would like to hope that all sides will avoid any steps that a) are not provoked by anything and b) could significantly destabilize an already fragile situation in the region," the Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a conference call with reporters, according to Reuters.

    SEE ALSO: Trump is weighing a massive strike on Syria — and it could bring all-out war with Russia

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Why Russia is so involved in the Syrian Civil War


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    brent

    • US President Trump told Russia to "get ready" for military action in Syria in a tweet on Wednesday.
    • Both Brent and WTI oil spiked on the news amid fears about what this could mean for supply.
    • See oil prices in real time here.


    LONDON — Oil prices spiked Wednesday after US President Donald Trump hinted at possible military engagement with Russia in Syria.

    Trump tweeted at around 7.00 a.m. ET (12.00 a.m. GMT):"Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and "smart!" You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!"

    Trump followed this up about 40 minutes later saying the US's relationship is "worse now than it has ever been, and that includes the Cold War."

    The two tweets sent the price of West Texas Intermediate oil spiking by around a percent to $66.20 at 7.30 a.m. ET (12.30 p.m. GMT). The global benchmark, Brent oil, also spiked.

    wtiFawad Razaqzada, a technical analyst at FOREX.com, said in an email shortly after Trump's tweet: "Fears that the supply of crude could be interrupted as a result is the main reason behind the oil price rally.

    "Oil prices have been further supported by the OPEC’s reduced output. However, with US oil production set to rise further in the coming months, the global oil market will likely remain amply supplied in the long-term.

    "We, therefore, think that oil prices will struggle to rise significantly further, although in the short-term price spikes are possible given the heightened possibility of military action in Syria. The fact that both Brent and WTI are testing or approaching their previous 2018 highs means there is also the possibility of at least a short-term breakout as resting buy stop orders are tripped."

    Trump's escalation of tensions with Russia comes after a suspected chemical weapons attack carried out by Syria's Bashar al-Assad against his own people last week. Russia is allied with Assad and has sort to warn the US off any action in response to the attack.

    Lukman Otunuga, a research analyst at FXTM, said: "While oil is likely to remain supported by geopolitical risk and a vulnerable U.S Dollar for the moment, soaring U.S Shale production has the ability to cap upside gains."

    SEE ALSO: Trump tells Russia to get ready for US missile strike on Syria

    DON'T MISS: The ruble is on track for its worst week since 1999 as Trump tells Russia: 'Get ready'

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    syria airspace cleared

    • The skies around Syria are emptier than usual as airlines try to keep clear of a potential US airstrike on Syria.
    • Planes have been avoiding war-torn Syrian airspace for years, but new warnings expanded the danger zone.
    • Flight regulators told planes to steer clear of the eastern Mediterranean and Cyprus, where US and Russian naval assets are based.
    • Donald Trump told Russia to "get ready" for a punitive strike on Bashar al-Assad's regime in retaliation over a reported chemical attack.


    The skies over and around Syria are even emptier than usual as commercial flights avoid the area in expectation of a potential US strike on the Assad regime.

    Although flightpaths in the region have long avoided Syria itself, an even broader swathe of airspace was vacated as tensions ramped up.

    Flight regulator Eurocontrol told airlines on Tuesday to avoid flying over the eastern Mediterranean to avoid getting hit or their communications jammed.

    Eurocontrol said: "Due to the possible launch of air strikes into Syria with air-to-ground and/or cruise missiles within the next 72 hours, and the possibility of intermittent disruption of radio navigation equipment, due consideration needs to be taken when planning flight operations in the Eastern Mediterranean/Nicosia FIR [Flight Information Region] area."

    The eastern Mediterranean and the island of Cyprus, where Nicosia is the capital, are immediately to Syria's west.

    eurocontrol syria flight warning

    Civilian flights over or near Syria are already rare. Most commercial airlines already avoid Syria's north and northeast — where major battlefronts such as Aleppo and Deir Ezzor are located — due to the ongoing conflict, Flightradar24 said.

    However, Eurocontrol's Tuesday warning to avoid the eastern Mediterranean shows heightened expectation of a US airstrike on Bashar al-Assad's regime.

    Donald Trump is considering launching a punitive strike on Syria in retaliation over a reported chemical attack that killed dozens of civilians, for which he blamed Syria and Russia.

    The US president told Russia to "get ready" for a US strike on Syria in an early Wednesday morning tweet.

    He is reportedly weighing a stronger strike than that of last year, when he ordered a strike of 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles on military infrastructure following reports of a chemical attack.

    The US president is skipping a major international summit in South America to weigh his options, and said on Monday that he would announce his decision shortly. Israel is reportedly anticipating a US strike.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Why Russia is so involved in the Syrian Civil War


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    Donald Trump

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon, after President Donald Trump tweeted that missiles "will be coming" to Syria, said on Wednesday that it would not comment on potential future military operations.

    "The department does not comment on potential future military actions. I refer you to the White House to characterize the president's tweet," Eric Pahon, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement.

    "As the President noted on April 8, the chemical weapons attack by the Syrian regime against innocent civilians in Duma, Syria on April 7 was horrifying, and demands an immediate response from the international community," Pahon added.

    (Reporting by Idrees Ali)

    SEE ALSO: Trump tells Russia to get ready for US missile strike on Syria

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    Trump baseball bat

    • President Donald Trump warned Russia on Wednesday that US missiles are coming for Syria, and it could launch the most technically complicated and advanced fight of all time.
    • Russia has top-of-the line air defenses in Syria, and if the US wants a meaningful strike, it will probably have to contend with their plane-killing missiles.
    • The US can launch a stealth strike or a massive cruise missile strike on Syria, but it all depends on how much the US is willing to risk to send a message to Russia and Syria about chemical warfare.


    President Donald Trump warned Russia on Wednesday that US missiles are coming for Syria, whether or not Russia will try to defend against them.

    Such a strike would call on the US's most high-end platforms and present one of the most difficult military challenges on Earth.

    Russia has deployed advanced air-defenses to Syria, and they're pretty much the top of the line. A Russian diplomat and several Russian lawmakers also threatened to shoot down US missiles, the platforms that fired them, and to otherwise impose "grave repercussions."

    But the US has stealth jets and Navy destroyers that can send missiles over 1,000 miles. If the US does intend to strike targets under Russia's air defenses, it will carry out perhaps the most complicated, technologically advanced military skirmish of all time.

    The US's best stealth jets vs. Russia's best air defenses

    F-22 f 22 flares

    Igor Sutyagin of the Royal United Services Institute, an expert on Russian missile defense systems and strategic armaments, previously told Business Insider that US planes can beat Russian air defenses, but not without a fight.

    "Yeah they can do it. In theory they can do it because they will be launching stand off weapons," Sutyagin said, referring to long range missiles as "standoff weapons."

    "The tactics of these low visibility planes as they were designed originally was to use the fact that detection range was decreased so you create some gaps in radar range and then you approach through gap and launch standoff weapons," he said.

    "If American pilots will be not experienced in their fifth-gens, they will be shot down. If they are brilliant, operationally, tactically brilliant, they will defeat them," Sutyagin concluded.

    Retired US Marine Corps Lt. Col David Berke, a former F-35 squadron leader and an F-22 pilot, also told Business Insider that US stealth jets were built to take on Russia's air defenses specifically.

    The Navy option

    tomahawk cruise missile

    But the US already struck Syria's government successfully in 2017, using cruise missiles launched from US Navy guided-missile destroyers.

    "One air defense battalion with an S-300 [advanced Russian air defense system] has 32 missiles. They will fire these against 16 targets (maybe against cruise missiles they would fire a one-to-one ratio) but to prevent the target from evading you always launch two ... but what if there are 50 targets?" Sutyagin said.

    "The Russian military in Syria has air defence systems theoretically capable of shooting down US Tomahawk missiles but these can be saturated and in the case of the S-400 [another Russian air defense system] in particular, are largely unproven in actual combat use," Justin Bronk, an air combat expert at RUSI, told Business Insider.

    But the cruise missile strike of April 2017 did little to actually stop chemical weapons attacks or violence against civilians from Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime. Within 24 hours, warplanes took off from the damaged airfield again.

    Russia has heavy naval power in the region, but Bronk predicted that Moscow won't have the stomach for a full-on fight against the US Navy, as it could easily escalate into all-out war between the world's greatest military and nuclear powers. 

    Trump's next strike may make the last one look tiny

    Sharyat air base air strike

    President Donald Trump is now weighing a much larger strike to send a clear message, the New York Times reports.

    To do this, the US will have to carefully weigh how much it wants to risk against Russia, a competent foe. 

    The scale of the US's strike "depends on the risk appetite," Bronk said, as the US will be "risking escalation directly with the Russians."

    "If the US decides on an option that involves more than cruise missiles and potentially a few stealth aircraft, it will have to suppress the Syrian air defense network and threaten or potentially even kill Russians," Bronk said. 

    SEE ALSO: Trump says US-Russia relations are worse than ever, offers a helping hand immediately after threatening missile strikes

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    NOW WATCH: Why Russia is so involved in the Syrian Civil War


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    obama trump

    • Donald Trump telegraphed military plans Wednesday morning, telling Russia to "get ready" for US airstrikes on Syria.
    • This strategy was exactly what he criticised Barack Obama for doing in 2013.
    • At the time Trump said: "Why can't we just be quiet and, if we attack at all, catch them by surprise?" This isn't what he's doing any more.


    Donald Trump is pursuing the exact same playbook in Syria he castigated his predecessor Barack Obama for.

    In an early Wednesday morning tweet, Trump told Russia to "get ready" for US missile strikes in Syria in retaliation over report chemical attacks on civilians last week.

    The tweet is the most obvious possible early warning to Russia and Syria of US military action, guaranteeing that they are as prepared as possible.

    However, back in 2013 when Trump was giving Obama unsolicited Twitter advice on handling Syria, he specifically criticised Obama for telegraphing his plans and squandering the "element of surprise."

    Around the same time Obama announced his intention to strike Syria in August 2013, saying: "after careful deliberation, I have decided that the United States should take military action against Syrian regime targets."

    Trump posted these tweets:

    In the end, Obama didn't take military action against Syria.

    Trump also knocked Obama for drawing a "red line" with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad over his use of chemical weapons.

    In a now-infamous news conference in 2012, Obama said that if Assad was found using or moving chemical weapons, "that would change my calculus" over whether to strike Syria.

    Trump at the time slammed Obama as "a disaster" and "very dumb," and warned: "Do NOT attack Syria, fix U.S.A." Now that he's president, Trump appears not to think focussing solely on domestic matters is the correct course.

    Trump has spoken out against telegraphing US military plans to enemies in the past.

    In April 2017, he told "Fox & Friends" that he didn't "want to telegraph what I am doing or what I am thinking," and lambasted Obama and Hillary Clinton for "recklessly [announcing] their every move before it happens — like they did in Iraq — so that the enemy can prepare and adapt."

    The Pentagon said on Wednesday that it "does not comment on potential future military action." However, the White House said last year that Trump's tweets should be "considered official statements by the President of the United States."

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    NOW WATCH: Why Russia is so involved in the Syrian Civil War


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    donald trump

    President Donald Trump seems poised to launch military action in Syria, a little more than a week after declaring he wanted to pull out of the country.

    The strikes would be in response to a suspected chemical-weapons attack by the regime of Bashar Assad. Trump previously ordered a missile strike on Syria in April 2017, following allegations of a chemical-weapons attack.

    "Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and 'smart!'" Trump tweeted Wednesday morning. "You shouldn't be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!"

    Below, you can see how one of the biggest crises of Trump's presidency emerged in the course of a week:

    SEE ALSO: 'All sticks, no carrots': John Bolton arrives at the White House with a crisis brewing in Syria and no hint of what Trump will do

    Trump reportedly told military officials to prepare to withdraw from Syria on Tuesday, April 3, the same day that senior military leaders warned that the fight against ISIS was not over.

    Source: Business Insider, Reuters



    "I want to get out. I want to bring our troops back home. I want to start rebuilding our nation," Trump said on April 3.

    Source: CNN



    That dispute between Trump and his military advisers was followed on April 7, by what is believed to have been a chemical weapons attack on civilians in Douma, a rebel-held town in eastern Ghouta, near Damascus.

    Source: Business Insider



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Syrian Civil War

    President Donald Trump is warning Russia to get ready for a US missile strike on Syria — and it could be coming soon.

    Saturday's suspected chemical attack in the Syrian city of Douma has reportedly killed up to 40 people and put new focus on the already seven year-long Syrian Civil War.

    The conflict has reportedly claimed the lives of as many as half a million people, caused the worst refugee crisis since WWII, and destroyed so many cities and so much infrastructure that the cost to rebuild is an estimated $200 billion

    What started as street protests turned into a civil war, and has now erupted into a war that involves dozens of nations (directly or indirectly), hundreds of armed groups, and four main sides.

    Despite all that, the war continues — and shows no real signs of stopping anytime soon.

    Take a look here at how the conflict unfolded:

    Veronika Bondarenko contributed to a previous version of this story.

    SEE ALSO: US Marines traveled to Israel to train in a mock Middle East village — and learned the harsh realities of urban warfare

    In the spring of 2011, a series of pro-democracy protests known as the Arab Spring were rocking countries across the Middle East. In Syria, people peacefully protested in the streets after President Bashar Assad's government arrested and tortured teenagers for writing pro-revolution graffiti on their school wall.

    Source: BBC



    To quell the protests, government forces started opening fire during marches and sit-ins. With hundreds of people now killed by Assad's government, the protesters who initially called for more civil liberties started demanding a total overthrow of Assad's regime.

    Source: The Guardian



    With no end to the violence, some former government officers formed the Free Syrian Army to support the opposition. Other armed groups with various ideologies and loyalties would also be created. As sides battled for control over major cities such as Homs and Aleppo, the fighting escalated into a full-blown civil war by the end of 2011.

    Source: BBC



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    US Navy aircraft carrier

    President Donald Trump warned on Wednesday that US missiles were coming to strike Syria, despite Russia's threats to shoot down incoming US missiles and even the platforms that fire them.

    The US has struck Syria before, using cruise missiles from two US Navy guided-missile destroyers in the Mediterranean. But experts now say the US would have to go bigger to make an impact on Syria's forces under Russian protection.

    With no aircraft carriers currently in the region, a heavy Russian naval presence and advanced missile defenses, and only 2,000 or so US troops on the ground in Syria, the US could seem outnumbered or outgunned.

    In reality, the US has massive airpower in the region that far overpowers anything else nearby.

    With the presence of the US Air Force in Qatar, Jordan, and Turkey, as well as forces on the ground, the US has a multitude of options for carrying out a strike in Syria.

    Take a look at the US's firepower in the region.

    SEE ALSO: Trump warned Russia that a missile strike on Syria is coming — here's how it could go down

    Here's the USS Theodore Roosevelt, the aircraft carrier that just left the region. It has aircraft for logistics, air-to-air, air-to-ground, intelligence-and-surveillance, early-warning, and antisubmarine warfare. It's one of 11 US aircraft carriers, and as it stands, it could make it back there within one week at full steam.



    Here's a loaded F/A-18E. This one has an air-to-ground heavy load out, but it still carries air-to-air missiles in case enemy aircraft attacks the US or US-backed forces, as was the case last year when an F/A-18E had to shoot down a Syrian Su-22.



    The crew can launch one of these every two minutes or so. F/A-18Es off the US aircraft carriers can fly thousands of sorties, or missions, during a single deployment.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Russia Navy Day

    • Russia's navy appears to have responded to President Donald Trump's warning that US missiles are headed to Syria, as well as the US Navy's deployment of an aircraft carrier to the region.
    • The Russian military has said it is tracking the movements of the US Navy. In the past, the US has used Navy ships to attack Syria.
    • Eleven Russian navy ships were seen leaving a port in Syria, but an expert said it could be a bluff.

    Russia's navy appears to have responded to President Donald Trump's warning that US missiles are headed to Syria after he accused the Syrian government of again conducting chemical warfare against its people.

    The Russian military has said it is tracking the movements of the US Navy, Reuters reported Wednesday.

    Last April, the US struck Syria over another chemical weapon attack, firing 59 cruise missiles from US Navy destroyers.

    Now, satellite imagery and reports indicate that 11 Russian warships, including a submarine, have left a port in Syria.

    The US Navy says it has dispatched an aircraft carrier strike group to the region, though it is likely to take about a week to get in position.

    The US regularly deploys aircraft carriers to the region to carry out airstrikes on ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria.

    Among the Russian ships that appear to have left the port in Syria is a Kilo-class submarine, thought to be one of the quieter and more advanced submarines in operation today.

    While Russian ships are less advanced in some ways, they often field advanced anti-ship missiles that can pose a real threat to the US.

    But Russia's movements may be a bluff, according to Ryan Bohl, a Middle East analyst at the geopolitical consulting firm Stratfor.

    "Neither the Russians or the Americans want World War III — they know how to avoid it and have very strong lines of communications," Bohl told Business Insider.

    "It's one thing to shoot down a Tomahawk"— a cruise missile used by the US Navy — "but another thing to shoot down a ship it came from," Bohl said, adding that the movement of Russia's navy was most likely a "way to try to raise the stakes for the Americans to pressure Trump to scale down whatever strike is coming."

    Essentially, Russia may be trying to look tough by sailing out its navy.

    "There's very little they can do from a conventional standpoint," Bohl said. Once the USS Harry S. Truman carrier strike group arrives, "the US will be able to clean up the eastern Mediterranean in a conventional fight any day."

    SEE ALSO: Trump appears on the verge of striking Syria — here's a look at US firepower in the region

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Why Russia is so involved in the Syrian Civil War


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    Theresa May

    • Britain is reportedly preparing to take military action against the Assad regime in Syria.
    • It comes after a suspected chemical attack in Douma, Syria, believed to have been carried out by the Syrian government.
    • Theresa May is reportedly moving submarines towards Syria, and may authorise a military strike without a vote in Parliament.
    • President Trump earlier tweeted: ""Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and 'smart!'"


    The UK is gearing up to take military action against Syria — and it could come as soon as Thursday.

    Following a suspected chemical attack in Douma, Syria believed to have been carried out by the Assad government, Trump reacted angrily — warning Russia to "get ready" because a missile strike is coming.

    There are now multiple signals that Britain will be taking part in any military action.

    A report from the BBC published on Wednesday asserts that Theresa May is is planning to join the US in its response  without a vote in Parliament, according to a new report from the BBC. The broadcaster, citing "well-placed sources," reports that May believes there is an "urgent" need for a response.

    Meanwhile, The Telegraph has reported that British submarines are being moved within "missile range" of Syria— and that military action could start on Thursday night.

    And the Daily Mail's political editor, John Stephens, tweeted: "Theresa May has summoned ministers for emergency Cabinet meeting tomorrow [Thursday] afternoon where she will seek approval for air strikes plan."

    "Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and 'smart!'"Trump tweeted Wednesday morning. "You shouldn't be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!"

    Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn previously told the BBC he supported a parliamentary vote before any action. It "should always be given a say on any military action," Corbyn said. "We don't want bombardment which leads to escalation and a hot war between the US and Russia over the skies of Syria."

    SEE ALSO: Trump appears on the verge of striking Syria — here's a look at US firepower in the region

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    F 15 Israel Air Force

    • A military conflict between Israel and Iran appears increasingly likely.
    • Israel alleged hit Iranian targets in Syria.
    • Analysts are predicting the "worst war the region has seen in decades."


    Following Israel’s alleged strike on Iranian targets in Syria, a military conflict between the Jewish state and the Islamic Republic appears increasingly likely, several analysts and officials estimated.

    “When on a given day, the chance for [active military conflict with Iran] are about one percent, now it is about 10%,” former prime minister and defense minister Ehud Barak said Tuesday.

    “The Iranians will probably respond to the strike attributed to Israel, even if not immediately,” reasoned Amos Yadlin, the head of the Institute for National Security Studies. “Iran will consider launching an official retaliation for the attacks on its soldiers this time in order to deter Israel from continuing to strike Iranian forces in Syria.”

    If and when the Iranians decide to attack Israel, he added, they will not do so from their own territory. “The possible theaters for doing so are Syria, Lebanon, or anywhere else around the globe, and Iran may employ its characteristic use of terror proxies.”

    Jonathan Schanzer, the senior vice president at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, also predicted a looming “showdown” between Israel and Iran on Syrian soil, going so far as anticipating the Middle East’s “worst war” in decades.

    “With Iran’s long record of sponsoring terrorist groups that target Israel, coupled with regular calls for destruction of the state of Israel, this has been a long time coming,” Schanzer, a former terrorism finance analyst for the US government, wrote in Politico. “Iran’s Syrian and Lebanese proxies, who are armed to the teeth with up to 250,000 rockets, are preparing to battle the most advanced military in the Middle East. It promises to be the worst war the region has seen in decades.”

    Citing the “tense situation,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday instructed his ministers not to publicly comment on the current security situation vis-à-vis Iran and Syria.

    But in private conversations, Israeli officials, too, see an imminent “collision” with Iran as inevitable.

    Donald Trump Benjamin Netanyahu

    Israel has drawn red lines, declaring repeatedly that it will not allow Iran to entrench itself military in Syria. But since the Islamic Republic is determined to do just that, the reasoning goes, sooner or later the sides’ diametrically opposed interests will mount into a full-blown military conflict.

    Iranian-Israeli tensions have long been simmering, mostly over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions and its stated goal of wiping Israel off the map. But recent events in Syria suggest that the anticipated clash may possibly occur sooner rather than later.

    On Monday, Israel allegedly launched an airstrike on a Syrian airbase that killed several people, including at least seven Iranian officials. While many observers initially believed the US had carried out the strike in response to the Assad regime’s alleged chemical attack on civilians in the Damascus suburb of Douma, Russia, Syria and Iran publicly blamed Israel.

    Tehran, which usually remains mum about Israeli strikes harming its assets in Syria, acknowledged — through its semi-official media outlets — that Iranians were killed by Israel’s warplanes, and vowed revenge.

    “The crimes will not remain unanswered,” Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khameini, said Tuesday in Damascus.

    Velayati’s visit in the Syrian capital this week is likely focused on how the two allied countries should respond to Israel’s attack, according to Shimon Shapira, an expert on Iran and Hezbollah at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

    Monday’s aerial attack struck an Iranian drone section of Syria’s T4 base, which was under exclusive Iranian command, he said. One of the seven Iranians killed during the strike held the rank of colonel.

    “The allegations from Tehran and Moscow that Israel carried out the aerial bombing and caused serious damage to the Iranian target raises the likelihood of a deterioration in the military situation between Iran and Israel,” assessed Shapira, who served as military secretary to Netanyahu during his first term.

    “Iran may increase its attempts to strike at Israel via the Golan Heights using Hezbollah and Shiite proxies from the ‘foreign legion’ that it established in Syria,” he went on. “Eventually, this deterioration may spill over beyond Syria and lead to Iranian and Hezbollah attempts to strike at Israeli and Jewish targets outside the region.”

    SEE ALSO: Trump appears on the verge of striking Syria — here's a look at US firepower in the region

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    syria gas attack child sarin chlorine chemical weapons reuters RTX5K7HN

    • Sometimes America must act as the world's policeman.
    • To really put America first, President Donald Trump must abandon isolationism. 
    • It's the only way to ensure his "America First" agenda is enacted.


    Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia was not technically wrong when he said, regarding intervention in Syria, that no one appointed the US or the West as "policemen of the world."

    But given the sad reality that the United Nations is a tired, feckless organization whose power has long been curtailed by both bureaucracy and the often-competing interests of its members, the US sometimes should act as the world's policeman, appointed or not. When the international body that is ostensibly responsible abrogates its duty, it is morally incumbent on other powers to step up. 

    Now is one of those times. But if President Donald Trump, who ran on a platform of isolationism, is not sufficiently persuaded by the basic human (and American) concept of helping those who are in the most dire of straits, there are other factors his administration should be considering when deciding how to act in Syria today and going forward. 

    The "America First" principle to which Trump turned so often during the campaign promises to put the interests of America and Americans before all else. This cannot be achieved through isolationism, and the violence in Syria is only the most recent example of why that is the case.

    Commentary's Noah Rothman explained it best:

    "American soldiers are deployed all over the world, often in nations with weak governments engaged in civil hostilities. Any number of illegitimate regimes would like to deploy with plausible deniability these cheap and relatively ubiquitous weapons of mass destruction. The erosion of the prohibitions around chemical warfare will mean that more Americans are exposed to these agents."

    When President Barack Obama drew — and failed to enforce — his "red line" on Syria's use of chemical weapons, he damaged America's credibility in the international arena. An America that is either afraid or unwilling to act is a weakened America — a publicly weakened America — and to truly put America first, one of Trump's core agenda items should be restoring the image of a powerful nation.

    In an interview with The Associated Press during the presidential campaign, Assad said that American officials "say something in the morning and they do the opposite in the evening." Therefore, "you cannot judge those people according t0 what they say. ... You cannot take them at their words."

    Though Trump insisted during the campaign that he didn't want "to broadcast to the enemy exactly what my plan is,"his tweet warning Russia to "get ready" demonstrated an inclination toward doing exactly that. And yet, if he doesn't follow through, he will only strengthen the dangerous perception that threats made by the administration do not need to be taken seriously. 

    The reasons for meaningful intervention are at least two-fold.

    On a human level, there is severe and ongoing suffering that we are in a position to, at the very least, begin to combat. On a strategic level, the decision not to act, or to act only minimally, in a way that is punitive but not harsh enough to dissuade the regime from future repeat actions, will only serve to further weaken and endanger America and American citizens in the long term. 

    SEE ALSO: It's Equal Pay Day — and the wage gap is better than everyone thinks

    Join the conversation about this story »

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