As the world waited on Wednesday for the U.S. government to make a decision over whether or not to launch an attack on the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad after he crossed President Obama’s declared “red line” by using chemical weapons, residents of the region prepared for a possible fallout from a strike, armies maneuvered their troops, and analysts questioned U.S. resolve for carrying out a strike on Syria with enough force to send a decisive message.

In the Middle East, residents were on edge. In Israel, long lines gathered for government issued gas mask kits and syringes of atropine, an antidote for chemical weapons poisoning. One distribution center was mobbed, and gas mask kits were looted. Israeli MKs pointed to a recent budget cut of NIS 1.3 billion ($364 million) of funding, now needed to supply the 4 out of 10 Israelis who still don’t own gas masks. In Kiryat Shemona, in the north of Israel, along the country’s border with Lebanon and Syria, 140 bomb shelters were opened by local authorities, Israel’s Channel 2 reported. Additionally, the Israel Defense Forces called up reserve soldiers and placed an additional Iron Dome missile defense battery in the north. In Turkey, missile batteries were pointed in the direction of Syria, according to Turkish daily Today’s Zaman. In Lebanon, a former AFP correspondent who blogs at Syria Deeply, a news website created to cover the crisis in the country, told Twitter followers: “Everyone getting mentally prepared for strikes over here […] It’s like watching a slow motion car accident.”

Over the last three days, in Amman, Jordan, defense chiefs and generals from 10 nations, including Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Qatar, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, met with U.S. General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, to discuss their response to the Syrian chemical weapons use, but no information had been shared by the allied military forces on Wednesday.

On the ground, the U.S. has 1,000 troops based in Jordan, including a headquarters unit, and an F-16 fighter detachment, at Jordan’s Mafraq air base, as well as Patriot anti-missile systems at two sites in the kingdom, according to a report from U.S. Army newspaper Stars and Stripes, published Sunday.

The USS Kearsarge, a Marine amphibious assault ship, is reported to be approaching Aqaba– Jordan’s sole port–and the U.S. Navy has deployed an extra destroyer to the eastern Mediterranean, bringing to four the number of warships in the area capable of firing cruise missiles against land targets, according to Stars and Stripes.

The Jordanian military, numbering 120,000 troops, has deployed combat units to the border with Syria to prevent a spillover of the ongoing fighting and manage the Syrian refugees – about 600,000 so far – who have fled across the frontier into Jordan.

The Syrian regime has responded to the allied “drums of war” and growing military build up in the Mediterranean, with threats of their own for reprisals against Israel and promises that Moscow will respond  in …read more
Source: The Algemeiner


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