Daily Archives: September 6, 2013

US admiral says ships in Mediterranean ‘fully ready’ for potential Syria strike

US Navy destroyers in the Mediterranean are “fully ready” to launch cruise missiles into Syria as part of a US military campaign that would not involve “extraordinary” monetary costs, a top admiral said Thursday.Admiral Jonathan Greenert said that the US was considering using Tomahawk missiles against Syria at a cost of $1.5mn each. His statement confirmed what no other officials had said publicly – though some had leaked similar information anonymously.Greenert called the Tomahawks “a really good option” for commanders.The Navy has four destroyers in the Mediterranean which are capable of launching cruise missiles into Syria. The US also has an aircraft carrier and accompanying warships in the Red Sea, should Washington decide to strike.The US naval ships deployed in the region “are fully ready for a vast spectrum of operations, including operations that they may be asked to do, from launching Tomahawk missiles to protecting…the ships themselves,” the admiral said.Greenert, a chief naval operations officer who focuses on preparedness of Navy forces, also seemed to confirm the rough estimate made by US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Wednesday in front of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, when he told Congress that a US campaign in Syria would likely cost “tens of millions” of dollars.”The numbers are nagging but they’re not extraordinary at this point,” Greenert said at an event held by the conservative think-tank American Enterprise Institute.Comments about the cost of intervention made by Hagel and Greenert reflect a belief that any US strike on Syria would be limited to a few days, though military budget analysts say Hagel’s figure is a low estimate.”I was surprised when I heard him [Hagel] say tens of millions of dollars. That’s low-balling it,” Todd Harrison, a defense budget analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, told Reuters.Much of the cost of a potential Syria strike would go to replacing munitions used. That funding would not be required until after September 30, when the 2013 fiscal year ends.”If you include the replacement costs of munitions, [an operation against Syria] could cost half a billion, up to a billion dollars depending on the number of targets they go after,” he said.Should US military action in Syria extend beyond current estimates, a supplemental spending measure would have to be approved by Congress. Greenert did not rule out the need for a further spending authorization.”A supplemental might be the order of the day,” he said about a protracted involvement in Syria.NATO fired 221 Tomahawk cruise missiles during its air war against Libya in 2011. Half of those were fired during the opening phase of the campaign. That intervention cost the US around $1bn in total, according to the Pentagon.

via US admiral says ships in Mediterranean ‘fully ready’ for potential Syria strike — RT USA.


G20 going political: Syria, NSA scandal pushing summit’s agenda

Despite pleasant views of St. Petersburg and a large list of economic challenges on world leaders’ agendas, political tension was apparent at the start of the G20 summit as the US faced questions regarding its stance on Syria and the NSA spying program.

Gorgeous weather and the serenity of Konstantinovsky Palace – where the first day of the G20 summit kicked off – could seem a bit misleading as the world’s largest economic powers braced for political battles, RT’s Aleksey Yaroshevsky reported from Strelnya.

The situation in Syria took center stage in summit discussions, despite Russian President Vladimir Putin’s opening call to “not mix up and bundle” economic and political issues. The two-and-a-half year conflict escalated after a chemical weapons attack took place outside of Damascus on August 21. The US believes it has evidence connecting the Syrian government to the attack. All eyes are currently on Congress as it decides whether to support a US strike on Syria.

G20 going political: Syria, NSA scandal pushing summit’s agenda — RT News

China sides with Russia in opposing military strikes on Syria, warns of oil price surge


China sides with Russia in opposing military strikes on Syria, warns of oil price surge — RT News.

Syrian Rebels Execute 7 Army Officers VIDEO Brutality of Syrian Rebels Posing Dilemma in West

Published on Sep 5, 2013

Syrian Rebels Execute 7 Army Officers VIDEO Brutality of Syrian Rebels Posing Dilemma in West | Syrian Rebels Execute 7 Army Officials VIDEO Brutality of Syrian Rebels Posing Dilemma in West | Syrian Rebels Execute 7 Army Officials VIDEO Brutality of Syrian Rebels Posing Dilemma in West
The Syrian rebels posed casually, standing over their prisoners with firearms pointed down at the shirtless and terrified men.
Tracking the Syrian Crisis
The prisoners, seven in all, were captured Syrian soldiers. Five were trussed, their backs marked with red welts. They kept their faces pressed to the dirt as the rebels’ commander recited a bitter revolutionary verse.

“For fifty years, they are companions to corruption,” he said. “We swear to the Lord of the Throne, that this is our oath: We will take revenge.”
The moment the poem ended, the commander, known as “the Uncle,” fired a bullet into the back of the first prisoner’s head. His gunmen followed suit, promptly killing all the men at their feet.
This scene, documented in a video smuggled out of Syria a few days ago by a former rebel who grew disgusted by the killings, offers a dark insight into how many rebels have adopted some of the same brutal and ruthless tactics as the regime they are trying to overthrow.
As the United States debates whether to support the Obama administration’s proposal that Syrian forces should be attacked for using chemical weapons against civilians, this video, shot in April, joins a growing body of evidence of an increasingly criminal environment populated by gangs of highwaymen, kidnappers and killers.
The video also offers a reminder of the foreign policy puzzle the United States faces in finding rebel allies as some members of Congress, including Senator John McCain, press for more robust military support for the opposition.
In the more than two years this civil war has carried on, a large part of the Syrian opposition has formed a loose command structure that has found support from several Arab nations, and, to a more limited degree, the West. Other elements of the opposition have assumed an extremist cast, and openly allied with Al Qaeda.
Across much of Syria, where rebels with Western support live and fight, areas outside of government influence have evolved into a complex guerrilla and criminal landscape.

That has raised the prospect that American military action could inadvertently strengthen Islamic extremists and criminals.
Abdul Samad Issa, 37, the rebel commander leading his fighters through the executions of the captured soldiers, illustrates that very risk.

Known in northern Syria as “the Uncle” because two of his deputies are his nephews, Mr. Issa leads a relatively unknown group of fewer than 300 fighters, one of his former aides said. The former aide, who smuggled the video out of Syria, is not being identified for security reasons.
A trader and livestock herder before the war, Mr. Issa formed a fighting group early in the uprising by using his own money to buy weapons and underwrite the fighters’ expenses.
His motivation, his former aide said, was just as the poem he recited said: revenge.
In Washington on Wednesday, Secretary of State John Kerry addressed the issue of radicalized rebels in an exchange with Representative Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican. Mr. Kerry insisted, “There is a real moderate opposition that exists.”
Mr. Kerry said that there were 70,000 to 100,000 “oppositionists.” Of these, he said, some 15 percent to 20 percent were “bad guys” or extremists.
Mr. McCaul responded by saying he had been told in briefings that half of the opposition fighters were extremists.

Much of the concern among American officials has focused on two groups that acknowledge ties to Al Qaeda. These groups — the Nusra Front and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria — have attracted foreign jihadis, used terrorist tactics and vowed to create a society in Syria ruled by their severe interpretation of Islamic law