Russian, Chinese, US, British ships mass off Syria
News from Hurriyet, Infowars, AFP, Reuters
On its way to Syria, followed by two landing ships: the SSV-201 intelligence ship Priazovye, one of a group of Intelligence collection ships built for the Soviet Navy in the 1980s. The ships continued in service with the Russian Navy.
By AFP/ Hurriyet Daily News(Turkey)
September 05, 2013
ISTANBUL – Three Russian warships crossed Turkey’s Bosphorus Strait Thursday en route to the eastern Mediterranean, near the Syrian coast, amid concern in the region over potential US-led strikes in response to the Damascus regime’s alleged use of chemical weapons.
The SSV-201 intelligence ship Priazovye, accompanied by the two landing ships Minsk and Novocherkassk passed through the Bosphorus known as the Istanbul strait that separates Asia from Europe, an AFP photographer reported. The Priazovye on Sunday started its voyage from its home port of Sevastopol in Ukraine “to the appointed region of military service in the eastern Mediterranean”, a military official told the Interfax news agency. Russia, a key ally of Damascus, has kept a constant presence of around four warships in the eastern Mediterranean in the Syrian crisis, rotating them every few months.
It also has a naval base in the Syrian port of Tartus whose origins date back to Moscow’s close relationship with Damascus under the Soviet Union.
Moscow vehemently opposes the US-led plans for military action against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in response to the chemical attack outside Damascus last month. Russian President Vladimir Putin warned on Wednesday that any US Congress approval for a military strike against Syria without UN consensus would represent an “aggression”.
PLA [Chinese military] dispatches vessels to “observe” US maneuvers
By Paul Joseph Watson, Infowars.com
September 5, 2013
China has reportedly sent warships to the coast of Syria to “observe” the actions of US and Russian ships as tensions build in preparation for a potential military strike on Syria which could come as soon as next week.
According to the Russian news outlet Telegrafist.org, the People’s Liberation Army dispatched the Jinggangshan amphibious dock landing ship and the vessel was seen passing through the Red Sea towards the Suez Canal, the waterway in Egypt that leads to the Mediterranean Sea and waters off the coast of Israel, Lebanon and Syria.
According to the report, the ship has not been sent to engage in any aggressive actions but is merely there to “observe” the actions of Russian and US warships. However, the Jinggangshan is equipped for combat, has conventional armaments and secondary cannons, and was utilized as part of a “show of force” in maneuvers aimed at defending the South China Sea earlier this year.
The report states that additional PLA warships have also been sent to the region but that their identity is unknown.
Yesterday it was reported that Russia was sending three more ships – two destroyers and a missile cruiser – to the eastern Mediterranean to bolster its forces which already include three other warships dispatched over the last two weeks.
Earlier this week, Russia criticized the United States for sending warships close to Syria, with Russian Defense Ministry official Oleg Dogayev remarking, “The dispatch of ships armed with cruise missiles toward Syria’s shores has a negative effect on the situation in the region.”
Five U.S. destroyers and an amphibious ship are currently positioned in the eastern Mediterranean awaiting strike orders. The USS Nimitz and three other warships are also stationed in the nearby Red Sea.
In a related story, China today toughened its rhetoric on Syria, warning President Barack Obama that, “Military action would have a negative impact on the global economy, especially on the oil price – it will cause a hike in the oil price.”
The Global Times, a newspaper described by Foreign Policy Magazine as “hyper nationalistic” and an “angry Chinese government mouthpiece”, also published an editorial yesterday which slammed Obama for failing to prove that last month’s chemical weapons attack was the work of the Syrian government, charging that Washington’s “geopolitical interests” in the region were behind the military build-up.
The editorial, which also complains of the total lack of media coverage in America concerning reports that Syrian rebels admitted responsibility for last month’s chemical weapons attack, accuses the White House of “ignoring logic as it beats war drums.”
The Royal Navy’s helicopter carrier HMS Illustrious is currently deployed in the Mediterranean. On August 25th the Telegraph reported “Britain is planning to join forces with America and launch military action against Syria within days in response to the gas attack believed to have been carried out by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces against his own people.” Photo by Reuters.
Five US destroyers – USS Gravely, USS Ramage, USS Barry, USS Mahan and USS Stout – are in the eastern Mediterranean, equipped with cruise missiles. The missiles can also be fired from submarines, but the US Navy does not reveal their locations. See Forces which could be used against Syria
US Navy file image shows a RIM-7P Sea Sparrow missile being launched in the Pacific on August 13, 2007.
By Delphine Matthieussent, AFP
September 03, 2013
Israel on Tuesday launched a missile over the Mediterranean in a joint exercise with the United States that came as Washington mulls punitive air strikes on Syria.
Speculation mounted after the missile firing at 0615 GMT, with Russia’s defence ministry saying its early-warning system had detected two ballistic missile launches from the central Mediterranean sea fired towards the eastern coastline, where Syria is located.
But the Pentagon said the exercise had no connection to possible attacks against the Syrian regime, and that it was a standard drill designed to assess Israel’s missile defences.
“This test had nothing to do with United States consideration of military action to respond to Syria’s chemical weapons attack,” Pentagon spokesman George Little said.
US President Barack Obama said earlier he was confident of winning congressional approval for military action against Syria that would involve cruise missile strikes launched from US warships in the Mediterranean.
Only after the Russian reports did Israel’s defence ministry announce it had carried out the missile test.
“The Israeli defence ministry and the American MDA (Missile Defence Agency) Tuesday morning at 9:15 (0615 GMT) successfully launched an Ankor-type radar missile,” it said in a statement.
“The test was launched from the Mediterranean and directed from an army base in the centre of Israel,” it said.
The defence ministry statement mentioned only one missile.
The test involved a new version of the Ankor (Sparrow) missile “and was concluded at… a test range over the Mediterranean Sea,” a separate Israeli defence ministry statement said.
The missile was to test missile tracking capabilities, local media reported.
Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon downplayed the significance of the test’s timing, saying on a visit to a military base that the “exercise was planned a long time ago.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lauded Israel’s missile defence capabilities.
“Our security depends on Iron Dome (the country’s vaunted missile defence system), and our will of iron, which are the things that will give us the power to defend ourselves,” he said at the opening of a technology park in central Israel.
“Those thinking of attacking us must know that it’s not in their interest.”
Russian news agencies said Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu had reported to President Vladimir Putin about the event, which comes amid growing expectations of Western military action in Syria.
Putin, a vocal critic of the West’s policies on Syria, has expressed strong doubt that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was behind an alleged chemical attack on August 21 that has prompted calls for military action.
Obama’s decision on Saturday to ask Congress to authorise military action against Syria lifted the threat last week of immediate strikes against Assad’s government.
Netanyahu said on Sunday Israel was prepared for “every possible scenario” in Syria, as Israelis rushed to collect gas masks, fearing possible reprisals against the Jewish state for US-led military action against a hostile neighbour.
But President Shimon Peres ruled out Israeli involvement in any intervention.
“It is not for Israel to decide on Syria, we are in a unique position, for varying reasons there is consensus against Israeli involvement. We did not create the Syrian situation,” he said.
Priazovye sails from Black Sea naval base as Vladmir Putin says deployment necessary to protect Russian security interest
By Reuters/ Guardian
September 02, 2013
Russia is sending a reconnaissance ship to the eastern Mediterranean as the US prepares for a possible military strike in Syria, it was reported on Monday.
The Priazovye left Russia’s naval base in the Ukrainian Black Sea port of Sevastopol late on Sunday on a mission “to gather current information in the area of the escalating conflict”, said an unidentified military source quoted by the Interfax news agency. The defence ministry declined to comment.
Barack Obama said on Saturday he would seek congressional authorisation for punitive military action against Syrian president Bashar al-Assad after what the US says was a sarin gas attack that killed more than 1,400 people.
Russia says the US has not proved its case and that it believes the attack was staged by rebels to provoke intervention in the civil war.
Russia is one of Assad’s biggest arms suppliers and has a naval maintenance facility in the Syrian port of Tartous. Moscow opposes any military intervention in Syria and has shielded Damascus from pressure at the UN security council.
Interfax said the Priazovye would be operating separately from a navy unit permanently stationed in the Mediterranean in a deployment that the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, said is needed to protect national security interests.
The defence ministry said last week that new warships would be sent to the Mediterranean to replace others in a long-planned rotation of ships based there.