Politics Missiles ‘Will Be Coming’ at Syria, Trump Says. Beyond That Lies Uncertainty.
Syria calls U.S. threats to attack it 'reckless'
The statement by the Foreign Ministry in Damascus comes as a war of words is raging between Washington and Moscow over last weekend's suspected chemical attack.The statement by the Foreign Ministry in Damascus comes as a war of words is raging between Washington and Moscow over last weekend's suspected chemical attack on a rebel-held town near the Syrian capital. Activists and first responders say the attack killed more than 40 people. Syria and its ally Russia deny such an attack happened.
WASHINGTON — President Trump made clear on Wednesday that missiles “” at at any moment, telegraphing a military operation as he has previously said he would never do. But the real suspense remained — how many missiles, for how long, at what targets and to what end.
The strike that Mr. Trump was preparing as retaliation forcarries all sorts of perils that worry military planners and diplomats alike. A fresh intervention in one of the most combustible battlegrounds on the planet — one already crawling with Syrian, Russian, Iranian, American, Turkish and Kurdish forces — could easily bring unintended consequences.
Sarah Sanders says no decisions have been made yet on Syria
The world is awaiting a response to Syria, and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan won't seek reelectionWhite House press secretary Sarah Sanders briefed reporters Wednesday, as the world awaits a U.S. response to the chemical attack in Syria, and for the first time since Speaker of the House Paul Ryan announced earlier Wednesday he will not be running for reelection.
The more expansive the strike, officials and experts said, the greater the risk of accidental casualties that could deepen the conflict withor . Yet a more restrained operation might not inflict enough damage on the government of President to change his calculations.
If Mr. Trump goes beyond missiles and authorizes the use of manned aircraft even from outside Syrian airspace, they face the dangers of a modern air defense system provided by Moscow.
And Mr. Trump’s Twitter warning, along with the delay in acting, has given the Syrians as well as their Russian and Iranian allies days to prepare.
Two Defense Department officials said the Syrian military had moved some of its key aircraft to a Russian base, assuming the Americans would be reluctant to strike there. Russian commanders have also moved some of their military forces in anticipation of American action.
8 photos of the S-400 in Syria, Russia's most advanced missile defense system that the US could go up against
The US appears on the verge of striking the Syrian government after it allegedly carried out a gas attack in a suburb of Damascus over the weekend.The US appears on the verge of striking the Syrian government after it allegedly carried out a gas attack in a suburb of Damascus over the weekend.
“You want to hit military targets, military equipment as much as possible, because it’s the Syrian military that’s carrying out these atrocities,” said Andrew J. Tabler, a Syria scholar at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “You want to make sure that you deliver a message and that you degrade their military capabilities.”
At the same time, he added, “the risk is, there are a lot of Russians throughout Syria.”
“They’re claiming they have people at every Syrian base,” he continued. “If you end up killing Russians, that risks a confrontation with Russia.”
Mr. Trump said earlier this week that he would respond to Saturday’s suspected chemical attack within 24 to 48 hours. But the move toward military action has slowed as the administration sought to coordinate with allies, includingand .
A joint operation takes longer to organize but would avoid the United States looking as though it was acting on its own.
Trump says Syria attack "could be very soon or not so soon at all"
U.S. President Donald Trump amended on Thursday an earlier warning of a swift military strike against Syria in retaliation for a suspected chemical weapons attack on civilians, saying it "could be very soon or not so soon at all.""Never said when an attack on Syria would take place," Trump wrote on Twitter.
Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain called a cabinet meeting for Thursday, and the BBC reported that she was ready to join a military operation without seeking approval from Parliament, as her predecessor, David Cameron, did in similar circumstances in 2013 only to be. Mrs. May ordered British submarines to move within missile range of Syria, according to .
President Emmanuel Macron of France, who is scheduled to visit Washington this month for a state dinner at the White House, has made clear that he is determined to participate in a strike as well. France has warplanes armed with cruise missiles in nearby Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.
Mr. Trump left little doubt about his intention with an early-morning Twitter post on Wednesday.
“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!”
The message conflicted with Mr. Trump’s oft-stated scorn for Presidentfor, in his view, forecasting his military moves. “No, dopey, I would not go into Syria,” on Twitter in 2013 when Mr. Obama was considering a strike of his own in retaliation for a chemical attack on civilians, “but if I did it would be by surprise and not blurted all over the media like fools.”
From Arab Spring to chemical attacks: A timeline of the Syrian conflict
How have we gotten to this point? Here's a brief history of some of the major developments in the Syrian civil war as they pertain to the United States:How have we gotten to this point? Here's a brief history of some of the major developments in the Syrian civil war as they pertain to the United States:
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said on Wednesday that the president was not violating his own policy because he did not give a precise time for the attack to begin.
“The president has not laid out a timetable and is still leaving a number of other options on the table,” she said. “And we’re still considering a number of those, and a final decision on that front hasn’t been made.”
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said that the United States was still evaluating the intelligence on the suspected chemical attack on Saturday that killed dozens in Douma, a suburb of Damascus. “We’re still assessing the intelligence, ourselves and our allies,” he told reporters. “We stand ready to provide military options if they’re appropriate, as the president determined.”
Few, if any, doubt the American capacity to inflict damage on Mr. Assad’s government. But it remains unclear whether the operation envisioned by Mr. Trump will be any more meaningful than a cruise missile strike he ordered last year after a chemical attack. That strike hit a Syrian air base that was up and running again within 24 hours.
“The question then becomes, are we just going to try to add additional costs on Assad and see and hope that it establishes a more effective deterrence?” said Jennifer Cafarella, a senior analyst at the Institute for the Study of War. “Or is President Trump going to, no kidding, pursue an effective deterrence that holds not just Assad, but his external backers, accountable as well?”
Over 100 missiles fired at Syria, 'significant number' intercepted: Moscow
The US and its allies fired more than 100 cruise missiles at Syria, a significant number of which were intercepted by Syrian air defences, the Russian defence ministry said Saturday."More than 100 cruise missiles and air-to-land missiles were fired by the US, Britain and France from the sea and air at Syrian military and civilian targets," the ministry said in a statement quoted by RIA Novosti news agency, adding that "a significant number" were shot down by Syrian air defences.
Military operations can produce unintended consequences and diplomatic nightmares.
President’s airstrikes against Al Qaeda targets in 1998 missed Osama bin Laden in and hit a pharmaceutical plant in that turned out not to be the chemical weapons facility American intelligence analysts thought it was. Mr. Clinton’s air campaign to protect from Serbian forces a year later resulted in the of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade.
Accuracy of American weaponry has improved since then, but mistakes and limitations remain facts of war.
In February,in Syria between pro-government forces backed by Russian mercenaries and a largely Kurdish militia that is supported by the United States left an undetermined number of the Russians dead.
Just days later, Syria demonstrated that its air defenses could threaten foreign warplanes whenafter coming under heavy fire, the first Israeli plane lost under enemy attack in decades.
In the last three years, the Syrian military has significantly upgraded its air defense systems, mostly with help from Russia, a former senior Defense Department official said. Although surface-to-air missiles would likely threaten American aircraft in western Syria, those jets would be able to fire cruise missiles from hundreds of miles away, either out at sea or over a neighboring country.
While Syrian air defenses have the range to hit an American jet flying above a country such as Lebanon, the American military could recover the downed aircrew much more easily, the former official said.
How are the latest Syria airstrikes different from last year's?
The White House and Pentagon are insisting the airstrikes the U.S. carried out with its allies overnight differ from the strikes the U.S. conducted last April, after a different chemical weapons attack attributed to Syrian President Bashar Al Assad's regime."Mission Accomplished!" President Trump tweeted Saturday morning, after what he declared as a "perfectly executed strike.
With American intentions so clearly forecast by Mr. Trump, the Syrian government has moved aircraft to the Russian base near Latakia, and is taking pains to secure important weapons systems, military analysts said. Russia, too, has had several days now to move key personnel and equipment out of harm’s way.
The United States and Russia still maintain a so-called deconfliction channel between American forces at Al-Udeid Air Base outside Doha, Qatar, and Russian officials at the Hmeymim military base in Syria, a Defense Department official said on Wednesday. The Pentagon alerted Russia before last year’s strike to warn its personnel to steer clear.
If Russians or Iranians were killed in a strike, it is unclear how their countries would react. The former senior Defense Department official expressed less concern about American attacks on the Russians because of the deconfliction line set up but sounded wary about a missile striking Iranian troops or their proxies.
The Iranians, the official said, could easily escalate militarily, by attacking American troops along the Euphrates River in Syria or with Iranian-backed militias in Iraq.
Pentagon officials said that even if Syrian warplanes eluded an American-led strike campaign, the United States and its allies could still damage airfields across the country to hamper Mr. Assad’s ability to launch future chemical weapons attacks. That kind of damage, though, would require a sustained strike campaign, likely over several days.
Derek Chollet, a senior Pentagon official during Mr. Obama’s deliberations in 2013, said the United States was in a better position now than it was then. After that episode, Mr. Obama dispatched American forces to Syria to fight the Islamic State terrorist group and that experience, Mr. Chollet said, has benefited the United States.
“We have a much better sense of the threat picture, about Syrian antiaircraft defenses and targeting because for four years now we have had people picking targets in Syria,” he said. “Now, those were ISIS targets, but our knowledge of the terrain is so much greater.”
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Satellite images show craters at alleged Syrian chemical weapons facilities .
The Syrians say some targeted sites didn't receive any damage. Satellite images given to CNN appear to show the contrary--extensive damage.Load Error
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