Friday, August 30, 2013

Military Movements in the Middle East Anticipating U.S. Strike on Syria, as of 30 AUG 2013 2200 EDT


Most regional players have taken a strong, defensive military posture, placing assets on alert and re-positioning them along vulnerable border areas.


The U.S. Navy has increased its deployment of ships in the Eastern Mediterranean to fiveArleigh Burke Class destroyers carrying guided missiles: USS Stout, USS Mahan, USS Ramage, USS Gravely, and USS Barry. For more on the capabilities of these ships, see ISW’s recent report, "U.S. Navy Positions Ships for Possible Strike against Syrian Targets."


The U.K. deployed six Typhoon jets armed with air-to-air missiles to Akrotiri Air Force Base in Cyprus. These planes are positioned in a defensive capacity against possible retaliatory action by the Syrian regime. 


Turkey is not mobilizing military troops, but is providing support to the U.S. in the form of hosting Incirlik Air Force base, near Adana. This US Air Force installation will likely play a support role in any action that is taken. Patriot missile batteries have been positionedalong Turkey’s southern border with Syria, in Adana, Gazientep, and Kahramanmaraş. The slightly less capable Stinger and I-Hawk interceptors have been placed in Kırıkhan.

Turkey has been placedon state of alert against possible chemical or missile attacks from Syria, and the Disaster and Emergency Management Directorate (AFAD) has stockpiled food and gas masks in its provinces along the Syrian border. "Approximately 400" Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) specialists working with AFAD "started conducting extra exercises in Turkey's southern and southeastern provinces of Hatay, Kilis, and Sanliurfa"


Jordanian, western, and American military teams have been repositioned from southern Jordan to the Jordanian-Syrian border in the governorates of Irbid and Mafraq, according to reports that  emerged on August 30. U.S. advisors are manning a Patriot missile battery in northeastern Jordan, and a squadron of U.S. F-16s has been placed on alert. These planes have been marked for defensive use only and are unlikely to take part in any possible strike. Additionally, a state of emergency has been declared in the area, with thousands of Jordanian soldiers receiving gas masks accordingto unnamed Jordanian officials. Unnamed sources also statedthat Special Forces (of unspecified nationality) are currently positioned at the Jordanian-Syrian border in order to secure chemical weapons stocks. There are also reports of population movement away from that part of the border.


Israel has also been placed on alert, with 1,000 soldiers in the Intelligence Corps, Home Front Command, and Air Force air defense units being mobilized. Missile defense units are on alert as well, with Iron Dome batteries being positioned in Haifa, Ashkelon, Eilat, Tel Aviv, and likely also in Jerusalem. Two additional batteries are being repositioned to a currently undisclosed location. Israel also utilizesPatriot and Arrow (Hetz) batteries, which are both being deployed in the north. The limited number of units called up suggests that this is a defensive posture, not a preparation for any offensive maneuvers. Cyber warfare units attached to the IDF have been placed on alert as well.


Accordingto Secretary-General of the Council of Ministers, Ali al-Alaq, through the Border Operations Command, has deployed forces to strengthen Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) capabilities along the border. This re-positioning is intended to prevent an influx of rebel fighters from crossing the Iraqi-Syrian border.


The Assad Regime has continued air strikes against populated areas while reportedly evacuatingmilitary installations and redeploying personnel into civilian areas, especially universities.


Lebanese Hezbollah has mobilized forces in Southern Lebanon, but has repeatedly indicated that it will not take action as long as any potential strike is punitive and limited in scope.


The Russian Navy is sending two warships, a missile cruiser and anti-submarine ship to Mediterranean. Transit time from Sevastopol is  estimated at 2 days, which places them on station on or about 8/31. They may be there simply to deter, but they might also be positioned to interfere with U.S. ship movement, conduct jamming operations, or use other delaying tactics.