World powers ‘rush’ to eastern Mediterranean
MOSCOW / LONDON
Russia is sending two warships to the eastern Mediterranean, the U.S. Navy has deployed a fifth destroyer to the region and Britain has sent six jets to its base in Greek Cyprus, while France has said its military is ready to commit forces to an operation in Syria as signs grow of an armed intervention. ReutersRussia is sending two warships to the eastern Mediterranean, the U.S. Navy has deployed a fifth destroyer to the region and Britain has sent six jets to its base in Greek Cyprus, while France has said its military is ready to commit forces to an operation in Syria as signs grow of an armed intervention.
Interfax quoted a source in the armed forces’ general staff as saying Russia was deploying a missile cruiser from the Black Sea Fleet and a large anti-submarine ship from the Northern Fleet in the “coming days.”
“The well-known situation now in the eastern Mediterranean required us to make some adjustments to the naval force,” the source said in a reference to the events in Syria. The navy later denied the deployment was linked to events in Syria and said it was part of a long-planned rotation of its ships in the Mediterranean. A U.S. official meanwhile said the USS Stout, a guided missile destroyer, is “in the Mediterranean, heading and moving east” to relieve the USS Mahan, adding that both ships might remain in place for the time being.
Britain has sent six RAF Typhoon jets to its Akrotiri base in Greek Cyprus in a move to protect British interests, the Defense Ministry said Aug.29.
The jets were deployed will not take part in any direct military action, the ministry said.
“They are not deploying to take part in any military action against Syria.”
Meanwhile, the government published internal legal advice it had been given which it said showed it was legally entitled to take military action against Syria even if the United Nations Security Council blocked such action.
It also published intelligence material on last week’s chemical weapons attack in Syria, saying there was no doubt that such an attack had taken place, that it was “highly likely” that the Syrian government had been behind it, and that there was “some” intelligence to suggest that was the case. In Paris, a French defense spokesman said the French military is ready to commit forces to an operation in Syria if President François Hollande decides to do so.
French Defense Ministry spokesman Pierre Bayle told reporters that “the French armed forces have put themselves at the ready to respond to the instructions of the president if he takes the decision to commit French forces” to an international intervention in Syria’s civil war.
Assad remains defiant
President Bashar al-Assad said that Syria will defend itself against any attacks. “Syria will defend itself in the face of any aggression, and threats will only increase its commitment to its principles and its independence,” the embattled leader told a visiting delegation of Yemeni politicians, according to state television.
U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon meanwhile said his investigating team would report back this week on suspected chemical weapons attacks in Syria.
Ban said the U.N. chemical weapons experts, who headed out to one of the attack sites near Damascus for the third day of inspections, would leave Syria by tomorrow and report to him immediately.
Senior Obama administration officials were expected to brief congressional leaders late yesterday, with lawmakers complaining they have not been properly consulted about plans to respond to what Washington says was the gassing of civilians.
President Barack Obama said Aug. 28 he had not yet signed off on a plan to attack Syria but Washington had definitively concluded that the al-Assad regime was to blame for last week’s attack.