Syria repositions air assets as Trump hints at war

Syria repositions air assets as Trump hints at war
# 12 April 2018 00:28 (UTC +04:00)

As U.S. President Donald Trump and his allies ramped up threats of military action against Syria this week, Syria’s military has repositioned some air assets to avoid fallout from possible missile strikes, U.S. officials told Reuters on Wednesday, APA reports quoting Reuters.

The officials declined to comment further and it was not clear whether the Syrian actions would affect U.S. military planning for potential action against Syria over a suspected poison gas attack.

But Syria’s attempt to shelter aircraft, perhaps by locating them alongside Russian military hardware that Washington might be reluctant to strike, could limit damage that the United States and its allies might be able to inflict on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s military.

A similar assessment regarding Syria’s actions was delivered by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, which said pro-Syrian government forces were emptying main airports and military air bases.

For days, Trump has been sharpening his rhetoric against Syria and its backers, Russia and Iran, calling Assad an “animal” on Sunday.

On Wednesday, he offered the clearest sign yet of his willingness to attack Syria, declaring that missiles “will be coming” and criticizing Moscow for standing by Assad.

Trump’s decision to disclose his decision to strike as well as the kind of weaponry to be used in a future military operation was certain to frustrate military planners, who hold such information closely.

The United States was actively collecting evidence on how Syria and Russia were responding to U.S. threats, officials said, adding that Washington believed Syria and its allies were almost certainly also moving personnel and military equipment - beyond just aircraft - into protective locations.

One of the officials noted that Syria and Russia relocated their equipment and personnel a year ago - the first and only other time Trump ordered missile strikes on Syria in response to a chemical weapons attack.

Last year, the U.S. military formally notified Russia over a hotline shortly before 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles struck the Shayrat air base. The U.S. goal was to minimize risk to Russian or Syrian personnel.

The targets of that strike included Syrian aircraft, aircraft shelters, petroleum and logistical storage facilities, ammunition supply bunkers, air defense systems and radar.

At the time, the Pentagon claimed that a fifth of Syria’s operational aircraft were either damaged or destroyed.