US Military Completes Initial Planning For Syria Attack As Israel Considers Military Action Against Syria’s Chemical Stockpiles
By Barbara Starr, CNN – “The U.S. military has completed its own planning for how American troops would conduct a variety of operations against Syria, or to assist neighboring countries in the event action was ordered, officials tell CNN.
In recent weeks, the Pentagon has finalized its assessment of what types of units would be needed, how many troops, and even the cost of certain potential operations, officials tell CNN.
Multiple military officials say initial planning is complete with a full understanding of what types of troops and units would be needed. This has been done so that if President Obama were to ask for options the military would be ready to present them. But officials say additional detailed work would have to be done before forces could be deployed.
The planning comes as the U.S. has become increasingly concerned that the violence in Syria is verging on civil war. Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the recent series of bombings have heightened the worry.
Dempsey said it reminded him of the escalating violence during the Iraq war.
The violence ‘gives us all pause that have been in Iraq and seen how these issues become sectarian and then they become civil wars and then they become very difficult to resolve,’ Dempsey told CNN in an exclusive interview on Thursday.
A senior U.S. official said the developments have been a matter of discussion in the Obama administration.
‘There is a sense that if the sectarian violence in Syria grows, it could be worse than what we saw in Iraq,’ the official said.” Read more.
Israel may use military force ‘to secure’ Syria’s alleged chemical arsenal – “The Israeli army is considering using military force to prevent Syria’s alleged chemical warfare stockpiles from getting into the hands of Hezbollah or Al-Qaeda. Tel-Aviv believes that Damascus is no longer capable of securing its arsenal. Syria has never declared it possesses chemical weapons stocks, but the Israeli military does not put its existence under question. Tel Aviv believes Syria has been busy producing mustard and nerve gas for the last 40 years. On Monday Israeli Maj. Gen. Yair Naveh, the country’s deputy military chief, warned that Syria could pose a threat to Israel with its chemical weapons.” Read more.
Russia Prepares Army for Syrian Deployment – “Given the worsening crisis in Syria, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper reported that the Russian army is apparently being prepared for a mission in Syria. Citing anonymous sources in the military leadership, the newspaper said that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the general staff to work out a plan for military operations outside Russia, including in Syria. The units being prepared for an intervention are the 76th Division of airborne forces (an especially experienced unit of the Russian army), the 15th Army Division, as well as special forces from a brigade of the Black Sea fleet, which has a base in the Syrian port of Tartus.” Read more.
Britain Could Send in Troops to Syria Says William Hague – “Britain could be forced to send troops into Syria if the bloodshed escalates into all-out civil war, William Hague warned yesterday. The Foreign Secretary said that time for a diplomatic solution is rapidly running out and the country is ‘on the edge’ of a Bosnia-style sectarian conflict. Britain will ‘greatly increase’ support for the Syrian opposition if attempts to end President Bashar al-Assad’s brutal repression fail, Mr Hague said. Admitting that our troops may be called into action, the Foreign Secretary said: ‘The reason I don’t rule things out is because we really don’t know how this situation is going to develop or how terrible it is going to become.’” Read more.