Syria crisis: Britain sends six Typhoon fighter jets to Cyprus ahead of military strikes
Britain is sending six Typhoon fighter jets to Cyprus to guard against potential retaliation by the Assad regime in the event of air strikes against Syria.
RAF sources said the fighters would be stationed in RAF Akrotiri to act as a “defensive shield” for the base in the event of attack by “rogue aircraft”.
The Typhoon fighters will play a “defensive counter-air” role and are not equipped to launch missile strikes on ground targets themselves. Sources said the deployment was “purely a prudent and precautionary measure”.
But the deployment will increase speculation that military action against Bashar al Assad’s regime is imminent, even before the British parliament has debated intervention.
An RAF spokesman said: “We can confirm that as part of ongoing contingency planning, 6 RAF Typhoon interceptor fast jets are deploying this morning to Akrotiri in Cyprus.
Syria: Russia ‘Sending Warships To The Med’
Syria’s staunchest ally is said to be deploying warships as Western powers prepare for action over the Damascus gas attack.
Russia is sending an anti-submarine ship and a missile cruiser to the Mediterranean, according to Russian news agency Interfax.
An armed forces source reportedly said the planned deployment was in response to the “well-known situation” – a clear reference to the conflict in Syria.
The navy has denied the deployment is linked to events in Syria, saying it is part of a planned rotation of its ships in the Mediterranean.
Russia is strongly against any military intervention in Syria, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov believing it would seriously destabilise the region.
Mr Lavrov has said any attack without UN Security Council approval would be a “crude violation” of international law.
Chuck Hagel issues warning over Asian maritime disputes
Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel warned fellow defence ministers Thursday that a growing number of maritime incidents and tensions in disputed Asian waters increase the risk of a dangerous international confrontation.
Hagel pressed ahead with a second day of talks in Brunei even as the United States prepares for a possible military strike to punish Syria for its alleged use of chemical weapons.
China has faced increasing accusations of bullying tactics in asserting its claim to nearly the whole of the strategic South China Sea, parts of which are claimed by several Southeast Asian countries.
Elsewhere, Tokyo and Beijing have played cat and mouse in the East China Sea over disputed islands. Japan earlier this week scrambled fighter jets after a Chinese government plane approached airspace Japan claims as it own.
World War 3 ALERT! HAGEL: US PREPARED FOR ‘ALL CONTIGENCIES’; Netanyahu: Finger ‘On The Trigger’
French and Russian warships ‘head for Syria’
France has sent one of its latest anti-air warfare frigates to the eastern Mediterranean, a French magazine reported on Thursday, while Russian media said that Moscow has despatched two warships to the same area, which is met by Syria’s only coast.
France has dispatched an anti-air warfare frigate to the eastern Mediterranean Sea amid growing speculation of an imminent missile strike on Syria, French news magazine Le Point reported on Thursday. According to an unnamed French military source quoted by the magazine, the Chevalier Paul (pictured) is en route to join a growing flotilla of warships including US navy destroyers and British and American submarines, which are armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles.
Russia Dispatches Sub, Cruiser; UK Sends 6 Jets To Cyprus; China Repeats “Dire Consequences” Warning
Finally, keeping things exciting, China reiterated that the West should stay the hell out. SCMP reports:
Chinese state media warned the West against strikes on Syria on Thursday as momentum mounted for President Bashar al-Assad’s regime to be punished over an alleged chemical weapons attack.
In an editorial headed “No excuse for strikes”, the state-run China Daily said the US and its Western allies were “acting as judge, jury and executioner”.
“Any military intervention into Syria would have dire consequences for regional security and violate the norms governing international relations,” it said, adding such a move “will only exacerbate the crisis and could have unforeseen and unwelcome consequences”.
Making a comparison with the war in Iraq, it said the international community should not allow “itself to be led by the nose by US intelligence, which after all was responsible for claiming Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction”.
The foreign ministry has advised any Chinese citizens in Syria to leave as soon as possible, and recent media reports from China’s First Financial Daily have revealed that Chinese entrepreneurs and businessmen working in Syria have begun pulling out of the country.
A spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in Syria surnamed Feng told First Financial Daily reporters that major Chinese-funded enterprises remaining in Syria were few, and most would “soon withdaw or reduce staff”.