US drone escapes attack over Hormuz. Syria threatens to bomb Lebanon. Russian marines dock in Beirut
DEBKAfile Special Report March 14, 2013, 10:52 PM (GMT+02:00)
Middle East tensions are spiraling six days before US President Barack Obama lands in the Middle East. Thursday night, March 14, an Iranian fighter jet tried to bring down a US Predator drone over the Straits of Hormuz – until a US fighter escort fired warning flares. Syria threatened to bomb Lebanon unless Lebanese Islamists stopped pouring into Syria to fight with Jabhat a-Nusra. Three Russian warships carrying marines entered Beirut port for the first time after the Syrian Tartus port was judged unsafe.
DEBKAfile Special Report January 6, 2013, 3:57 PM (GMT+02:00)
With a buildup of 16 Russian warships carrying thousands of marines on the Syrian coast “to deter the West from deploying ground forces in Syria” - and remain until Easter, Syrian Bashar Assad could afford to brazen it out Sunday, Jan. 6, in his first public speech in seven months. Syria no longer takes dictation from anyone, he said. Citizens must defend their country against “a war fought by a handful of Syrians and many foreigners.” He rejected dialogue with the opposition as “puppets fabricated by the West.”
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report January 4, 2013, 12:02 AM (GMT+02:00)
Obama again warns Assad not to use chemical weapons, but instead the Syria ruler starts moving them north and getting them ready for operations. US Congressman Mike Rogers says they are in condition use at a moment's notice.
DEBKAfile Special Report December 18, 2012, 7:11 PM (GMT+02:00)
Russian warships set out Tuesday, Dec. 18, for two Middle East flashpoint destinations: Two assault ships, a tanker and an escort vessel sailed from the Baltic to Syria – possibly to evacuate Russian citizens; and Russia’s largest anti-submarine vessel headed for the Gulfs of Aden and Oman close to the Persian Gulf and Iran. debkafile: Russia’s military steps seem to be actuated by anticipation of the international crisis arising from the introduction of chemical warfare to the Syrian war – either by Assad’s army or insurgents.
DEBKAfile Special Report November 23, 2012, 4:58 PM (GMT+02:00)
The Black Sea Fleet's naval task force has been ordered to remain in the eastern Mediterranean ready to evacuate Russian citizens from the Gaza Strip. debkafile: Moscow used the same pretext as Washington, readiness to evacuate nationals in an emergency, to account for the presence last week of the USS Iwo Jima and two other warships in the east Mediterranean. Both flotillas are in fact on standby for developments in the Syrian crisis. The Iwo Jima has since moved quietly into waters off Syria.
DEBKAfile Special Report July 25, 2012, 1:31 PM (GMT+02:00)
Foreign forces were piling up on Syrian borders Wednesday, July 25, bringing closer a confrontation which could spur the Assad regime into making good on its threat to use chemical weapons against “external aggression.” The immediacy of the peril, debkafile reports, has speeded the arrival of Russian warships to Syria to counter a potential Western, Arab or Israeli assault on the embattled country. London sources predict British military intervention, while Tehran is ready to fight off any attempt at regime change in Damascus.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report June 17, 2012, 8:47 AM (GMT+02:00)
Moscow is using the time up until Russian President Vladimir Putin faces US President Barack Obama across the G20 conference table in Los Cabos, Mexico Sunday, June 17 – or its corridors - to ship sophisticated anti-air, anti-ship arms to Syria able to prevent a no-fly zone being imposed. A fleet of Russian warships is also heading for Tartus. If the two presidents come to terms on Syria and Iran, the planned US and allied intervention in Syria may be delayed. If not - quickened.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report April 15, 2012, 10:18 PM (GMT+02:00)
Announcing he is not responsible for the UN observers, President Bashar Assad has set in motion steps for prolonging his war on the Syrian people. For essential funding, debkafile discloses, he has offered Moscow and Beijing $30 billion worth of government bonds to replenish his depleted war chest. And at the UN Security Council, while Russia’s Vitaly Churkin voted for a UN observer team to secure the erratic Syrian ceasefire, Moscow quietly sent warships to Syrian shores to secure the Assad regime.
DEBKAfile Special Report February 19, 2012, 6:30 PM (GMT+02:00)
Iran continues to behave as though it is calling the shots. The first formal announcement of the resumption of Iran-world powers nuclear talks (confirming debkafile’s exclusive) came from its Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Selahi who Sunday, Feb. 19, named the venue as Istanbul, Turkey. Saturday, two Iranian warships got away with delivering arms for Bashar Assad’s crackdown without US or Israeli interference. They docked at Tartus port Saturday alongside a Russian naval flotilla, symbolizing their joint effort to preserve Assad.
DEBKAfile Special Report January 9, 2012, 10:21 AM (GMT+02:00)
US, Russian, French and British air and naval forces are gathering around the Syrian and Iranian coasts on guard for fresh developments at the two Middle East flashpoints. The Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov put in earlier than planned at Syria's Tartus port Sunday, Jan. 8, together with two more Russian warships. British and French naval craft head to the Persian Gulf, while the giant US RQ-4 Global Hawk drone has begun monitoring Iranian coastlines from the USS Stenning aircraft carrier.
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report December 5, 2011, 2:41 PM (GMT+02:00)
The actions and words of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Syrian ruler Bashar Assad in the last 72 hours indicate they are bracing for a regional war, including an attack on Iran, within a time frame between mid-December 2011 and mid-January 2012.
DEBKAfile Special Report November 26, 2011, 11:33 AM (GMT+02:00)
The Syrian crisis assumed a big power dimension this week with the build-up of rival US and Russian air carrier armadas in Syrian waters – ranged against and in support of Bashar Assad, debkafile's military sources report. The USS George H.W. Bush arrived Wednesday, Nov. 23, with 70 fighter-bombers and 8 guided missile cruisers and destroyers. Russia's only air carrier the Admiral Kuznetsov is due in mid-week to boost the three Russian warships already anchored off the Syrian port of Tartus.