US Official: Russia knew Syrian chemical attack was coming




 

WASHINGTON (AP) - The United States has made a preliminary conclusion that Russia knew in advance of Syria's chemical weapons attack last week, but has no proof of Moscow's involvement, a senior U.S. official says.

The official said Monday that that a drone operated by Russians was flying over a hospital as victims of the attack were rushing to get treatment. Hours after the drone left, a Russian-made fighter jet bombed the hospital in what American officials believe was an attempt to cover up the usage of chemical weapons.

The U.S. official said the presence of the surveillance drone over the hospital couldn't have been a coincidence, and that Russia must have known the chemical weapons attack was coming and that victims were seeking treatment

The official, who wasn't authorized to speak publicly on intelligence matters and demanded anonymity, didn't give precise timing for when the drone was in the area, where more than 80 people were killed. The official also didn't provide details for the military and intelligence information that form the basis of what the Pentagon now believes.

Another U.S. official cautioned that no final American determination has been made that Russia knew ahead of time that chemical weapons would be used. That official wasn't authorized to speak about internal administration deliberations and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The allegation of Russian foreknowledge is grave, even by the standards of the currently dismal U.S.-Russian relations.

Although Russia has steadfastly supported Syrian President Bashar Assad's government, and they've coordinated military attacks together, Washington has never previously accused Moscow of complicity in any attack that involved the gassing of innocent civilians, including children. The former Cold War foes even worked together in 2013 to remove and destroy more than 1,300 tons of Syrian chemical weapons and agents.

Until Monday, U.S. officials had said they weren't sure whether Russia or Syria operated the drone. The official said the U.S. is now convinced Russia controlled the drone. The official said it still isn't clear who was flying the jet that bombed the hospital, because the Syrians also fly Russian-made aircraft.

U.S. officials previously have said Russians routinely work with Syrians at the Shayrat air base where the attack is supposed to have originated. U.S. officials say the chemical weapons were stored there and that those elements add to the conclusion that Russia was complicit in the attack.

Last Thursday 59 Tomahawk missiles were fired on the government-controlled base in the United States' first direct military action against Assad's forces.

The U.S. has been focusing its military action in Syria on defeating the Islamic State group.

On Monday, Col. John J. Thomas, a U.S. military spokesman, said the U.S. has taken extra defensive precautions in Syria in case of possible retaliation against American forces for the cruise missile attack.

Thomas told reporters at the Pentagon that the increased emphasis on defensive measures to protect U.S. troops on the ground in Syria led to a slight and temporary decline in offensive U.S. airstrikes against IS in Syria.

There has been no Syrian retaliation so far for the cruise missile attack, which destroyed or rendered inoperable more than 20 Syria air force planes, he said.

Thomas said the U.S. intends to return to full offensive air operations against IS as soon as possible.

COMMENTS

More Related News

Rep. Adam Schiff Warns Of GOP Plans To Shutter House's Russia Probe
Rep. Adam Schiff Warns Of GOP Plans To Shutter House's Russia Probe

Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee may be looking to prematurely shutter the committee's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, a ranking Democrat warned Friday.

Pentagon alarmed by uptick in close calls with Russia jets in Syria
Pentagon alarmed by uptick in close calls with Russia jets in Syria

The Pentagon is voicing growing alarm that the risky flying of Russian pilots in Syria could lead to a mishap -- or even the nightmare scenario of a US jet shooting down a Russian warplane. Defense officials this week highlighted several recent close calls with Russian planes, including one Wednesday, when a pair of US F-22s intercepted two Russian jets over a part of Syria in which the Pentagon says they are not meant to be operating. The uptick in incidents comes as remaining operations by the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group in Syria have shrunk down to an area of only about 15 square miles (39 square kilometers) around Albu Kamal in eastern Syria, by the Iraq border.

Russia to resume flights to Egypt, halted after 2015 bombing
Russia to resume flights to Egypt, halted after 2015 bombing
  • World
  • 2017-12-15 15:58:41Z

MOSCOW (AP) - Russia and Egypt signed a deal Friday to resume flights between Moscow and the Egyptian capital of Cairo starting from February after more than a two-year break, officials announced on Friday.

German teenager says she was 'idiot' for joining Isil, in first interview since capture
German teenager says she was 'idiot' for joining Isil, in first interview since capture

A German teenage girl has said she was an "idiot" for joining Islamic State and the decision has wrecked her future, in her first interview since her arrest by Iraqi forces in Mosul.   Linda Wenzel, 17, claimed her escape was a "stupid idea" but showed little remorse in the first meeting with her family since she left her hometown of Pulsnitz in Saxony for Syria in July last year.  Linda was briefly reunited with her mother Katharina and sister Miriam, who were allowed to visit her at the Palace of Justice in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.  A video of the meeting shows Linda, who is currently being held in prison while she awaits trial, wearing a flowery headscarf sporting round cheeks....

US jets intercept Russian warplanes in Syria: Pentagon
US jets intercept Russian warplanes in Syria: Pentagon

A pair of US warplanes intercepted two Russia jets over a part of Syria they were not supposed to be operating in, the Pentagon said Thursday. At one point during Wednesday's incident, the American F-22 Raptor stealth fighters deployed chaff and flares to convince the Russian Su-25s to leave the area, and one US pilot had to "aggressively maneuver" to avoid a midair collision, Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon said. The Russian fighters had flown into airspace controlled by the US-led coalition that is fighting the Islamic State group in Syria, crossing onto the east side of the Euphrates River near Albu Kamal.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Latin America

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.