Two Russian warships carrying military hardware have been spotted en route to Syria as the world awaits the Kremlin's response to last weekend's coordinated strike on three Syrian facilities, marking the fourth recent deployment of Russian military equipment to Syria.
An Alligator-landing ship carrying tanks, trucks, ambulances and an IED radar was headed to the Russian naval base at Tartus, Syria, according to Bosporus-based naval observer Yörük Işık - who also spotted the Alexandr Tkachenko, a yellow RoRo (Roll-on / Roll-off) vessel carrying high-speed patrol boats, several trucks and a temporary bridge structure.
The blue Project 117 LST Orsk 148 ship was carrying Soviet BTR-80 tanks, Ramaz trucks and a Pelena-1 bomb radar, used to detect IEDs.
A second yellow cargo vessel was equipped with a BMK-T boat used for building temporary bridges and an array of other military hardware. -Daily Mail
Reinforcement for Russia’s campaign continues amid rising international crisis in #Syria: #ВМФ Project1171 #ЧФ BSF Tapir class LST Orsk transits Med-bound Bosphorus en route to #Tartus carrying BTR80 APCs, Ural4320tanker,ambulance,KamAZ trucks & AirborneTroops VDV’s IVECO 4WDLynx pic.twitter.com/rmfsRRVxnJ— Yörük Işık (@YorukIsik) April 15, 2018
Supply & reinforcement for Russia’s #Syria campaign continues: #ВМФ Project 1171 #ЧФ BSF Tapir class LST Orsk 148 transits Mediterranean-bound Bosphorus en route to #Tartus for its 4th #Syria campaign deployment in 2018 carrying military vehicles & hardware pic.twitter.com/W5uEAPb7xK— Yörük Işık (@YorukIsik) April 15, 2018
The RoRo supply ship was spotted on April 13 carrying a "Project 03160 Raptor, BMK-T bridge erection boat, KamAZ & Ural 4320 trucks," according to Işık.
Crossing the Rubicon ? Supply & reinforcement for Russia’s #Syria campaign continues: Russian Gov chartered, #Russia flag RoRo Alexandr Tkachenko transits Med-bound Bosphorus en route to #Tartus carrying Project 03160 Raptor, BMK-T bridge erection boat, KamAZ & Ural 4320 trucks. pic.twitter.com/fC3CG5XSaZ— Yörük Işık (@YorukIsik) April 13, 2018
The hardware shipments come amid a third round of sanctions on Monday for "enabling the Syrian government's use of chemical weapons in civil war," announced over the weekend by US ambassador Nikki Haley following US-led airstrikes which included France and Britain.
The United States, France and Britain launched over 103 missiles on Saturday night at three Syrian facilities in retaliation for a suspected poison gas attack in the city of Douma seven days prior.
US-led forces hit:
- The Barzeh Research and Development Center - hit with 57 U.S. Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAMs) and 19 joint air-to-surface missiles, which the Pentagon's Marine Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. says will "set the Syrian chemical weapons program back for years."
- The Him Shinshar chemical weapons depot, - was struck by nine U.S. Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAMs), eight Storm Shadow missiles, three naval cruise missiles and two Scout land attack cruise missiles, according to NPR. The Him Shinshar chemical weapons bunker facility - located over 4 miles from the chemical weapons depot, was hit with seven Scout missiles.
The third strike was on a command center.
While the West has conclusively blamed the Assad government for the attack, serious questions have arisen over everything from Assad's motive, the type of nerve agent used, to the credibility of the first responders - an NGO known as the White Helmets who have a reputation for staging evidence.
Don't call it a war though!
French President Emmanuel Macron today insisted the allied forces had not 'declared war' on Syria.
He told a French TV station: 'We have not declared war on the regime of Bashar al-Assad.' During the two-hour interview he also claimed he had 'convinced' Trump to maintain a military presence in Syria after the US leader threatened to pull out of the country entirely.
It emerged that Trump called Mr Macron twice before he shared his intention to strike Syria in a Twitter post. But he failed to call UK Prime Minister Theresa May in the early stages of the operation, giving the French leader the opportunity to claim France is America's leading ally in Europe. -Daily Mail
In a Sunday warning, Vladimir Putin said that further attacks on Syria by Western forces, "in violation of the U.N. Charter," would send international relations into "chaos."
In a telephone conversation with his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, Putin and Rouhani agreed that the Western strikes had damaged the chances of achieving a political resolution in the seven-year Syria conflict, according to a Kremlin statement. -Reuters
Syrian president Bashar al-Assad continues to deny the use of chemical weapons, telling a delegation of Russian politicians visiting on Monday that Western air strikes against his country were done so based on a campaign of "lies" and misinformation at the UN.