US Air Force beefs up strength in Qatar. Syrian troops, warplanes, tanks and artillery moved to sheltered sites
Wednesday, Aug. 28, the US, on the one hand, and Syria, on the other, were winding up their last military preparations ahead of an American operation against Syria,. Barring last-minute hold-ups, DEBKAfile’s military sources report the operation is scheduled to start Friday night Aug. 30 (edging into Saturday morning, according to local Mid East time.)
In the past 24 hours, the US Air Force finished a major buildup at the big US Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar. B-1B bombers and F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets were brought over from other US Mid East air facilities on the Omani island of Masirah and Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.
These squadrons were not assigned to the US military strike against Syria, say our military sources, but will stand ready to move in should unforeseen complications in the course of the US missile assault on Syria call for the introduction of extra assets from outside.
Israeli officials and spokesmen continued to insist Wednesday on low expectations of a Syrian counter-offensive against their country.
Nevertheless, the new US air force reinforcements in Qatar will stand ready to rush to the aid of US allies — Israel, Jordan and Turkey — in the event of their coming under Syrian Scud attack.
On the opposite side, the Syrian army Tuesday started scattering personnel, weapons and air assets to safe places to reduce their exposure to damage and losses from US assaults.
Our military sources report that personnel, tanks and artillery of the Syrian Army’s 4th and Republican Guard Divisions, which are held responsible for the Aug. 21 chemical attack on civilians, were being moved into fortified shelters built last year against potential foreign military intervention.
Syrian army command centers in Homs, Hama, Latakia and the Aleppo region were also being split up and dispersed, after a tip-off to Syrian and Russian intelligence that they would be targeted by the US strike.
Syria has also transferred its Air Force fighter planes, bombers and attack helicopters to fortified shelters which are armored against missile and air attack.
In Israel, the IDF continued Wednesday to deploy its anti-missile Arrow, Patriot and Iron Dome systems more widely than ever before across the country. Iron Dome batteries were positioned in the heavily populated central region around Greater Tel Aviv.
DEBKAfile’s military sources reported that Israel’s Arrow and Patriot interceptors were linked to the US missile shield, with which their operation has been synchronized.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that Israel was ready for any scenario. Although it takes no part in the Syrian civil war crisis, Israel would not hesitate to fight back for any attempted attacks — and would do so forcefully.
Wednesday morning, the machinery for distributing gas masks to the population broke down under the pressure of demands to distribution centers across the country. The Homeland Ministry’s website crashed. Former Interior Minister Ellie Yishay complained of a shortage of protective masks due …read more