Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad appear to have evacuated most personnel from army and security command headquarters in central Damascus in preparation for a possible Western military strike, residents and opposition sources said on Wednesday.
Syrian Army – Illustration
US-led air or missile strikes on Syria look all but certain after the United States and European and Middle Eastern allies blamed a suspected poison gas attack that killed hundreds in the city on August 21 on Assad’s forces.
Army units stationed near the capital have confiscated several trailer trucks, apparently to transport heavy weaponry to alternative locations, though no significant movement of military hardware has been reported, possibly due to heavy fighting near major highways, one of the sources added.
Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi said Wednesday that Syria will turn into a “graveyard of the invaders” in case of a Western military intervention.
Syria will “surprise the aggressors as it surprised them in” the 1973 Yom Kippur war, when Arab forces caught Israel off guard, and become “the graveyard of the invaders,” he said, quoted by state television.
The “colonialist threats” of Western powers “do not terrorise us because of the will and determination of the Syrian people, who will not accept being humiliated,” Halqi said.
Meanwhile, joint Jordanian and US military forces have mobilized along the Jordanian-Syrian border, officials and witnesses say.
Dozens of tanks and fighter jets are also mobilized along the 370-kilometre border, they add.
“US and Jordanian forces have been training together for months in preparation for this scenario,” says a Jordanian military commander not authorized to speak to the media.
Local residents near the border town of Ramtha, a few kilometres away from the southern Syrian city of Daraa, report several unmanned drones monitoring the border region.
Turkey has put its armed forces on alert to guard against threats from Syria as Western allies weigh possible military action against President Bashar al-Assad, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Wednesday.
“We are now at a more alert position … Turkey will take whatever measures necessary within the framework of its own strategic interests,” Davutoglu said. He said “all options” remained open on the possible international action.
Iraq also has put its security forces on high alert ahead of an expected international strike on Syria, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Wednesday.
“All political and security powers in Baghdad, the provinces and all over Iraq, announce the highest level of alert,” he said in a weekly televised statement which focused mainly on Syria.
West prepared Syria intervention since last year – Source
Western countries have been planning a military operation in Syria since last year, the RIA Novosti news agency reported on Wednesday, citing a reliable source in Russia’s Security Council.
“The escalation of the threat of military aggression against Damascus is no surprise. This aggression has been prepared since last year. Various options were mapped out and rehearsed by NATO troops,” the source said.
“Remember the invasion of Iraq? It was also preceded by so-called ‘direct proofs” allegedly received by Western intelligence services from their most reliable sources. The opinion of UN specialists was ignored. But later it became known that those ‘intelligence sources’ were shamefully lying. And we see the result – the Iraqi state almost entirely destroyed, terrorists dominating the country, hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths, and the dire situation of the Iraqi people,” the source said.