Reports from Israel’s Debkafile website say that a British offensive may be taking place in Syria targeting the presidential palace and the compound of the presidential guard.
Unconfirmed first reports from British, French and Turkish sources say British special operations forces crossed from Turkey into northern Syria Tuesday, May 26, and advanced up to 10 kilometers inside the country. The same sources report heavy fighting around the Presidential Guards compound on the outskirts of Damascus. Debkafile’s military sources note that this compound exists to defend Bashar Assad’s presidential palace on Mount Qaisoun overlooking Damascus.
British and Gulf TV stations are again running interviews with dozens of Syrian soldiers taken prisoner by rebel forces and transferred to Free Syrian Army centers in South Turkey. But this time, they are being aired in conjunction with those two developments, indicating pivotal and coordinated military action inside the embattled country, or even the start of western intervention against the Assad regime.
Later Tuesday, Gulf military sources confirmed the presence of British special forces in Syria. Our military sources estimate that the British military drive into Syria, if confirmed, is designed to establish the first safe zone along the Syrian-Turkish border, to be followed by more Western military incursions to establish additional zones of safe asylum in other parts of Syria. This follow-up action would depend substantially on Syrian, Russian and Iranian (+ Hizballah) responses to the initial stage of the operation.
Turkey has deployed tanks on Syrian border…
RT.com reports that as tensions between Ankara and Damascus rise over the downed fighter jet, Turkey has sent tanks and other armored vehicles to the Syrian border, amid belligerent threats of retaliation.The heavily guarded convoy that departed from the city of Diyarbakir reportedly included 15 armored tanks, long-distance guns and other military vehicles, Dogan news agency reports. This comes as Turkey’s Prime Minster Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that any Syrian forces approaching the Turkish border would be treated as a direct threat.
Addressing the Turkish parliament on Tuesday, Erdogan lashed out at Syria, saying it poses a threat to Turkey’s national security and calling the Syrian government tyrants.
Tensions between the neighboring countries escalated after Syria shot down a Turkish military plane on Friday. Syria insists the plane was still in its territory when its air defense forces engaged it, citing the fact that it was shot down by an artillery gun with a maximum range of 2.5 kilometers rather than a longer-range surface-to-air missile. The Turkish prime minister has reiterated an earlier assessment that the plane was downed after leaving Syrian airspace, saying Turkey has proof of this.
Escalating violence in Syria forced some 300 unarmed United Nations observers to suspend their mission on June 15 2012. The head of the mission, Major General Robert Mood, said observers will not leave the country but “will remain in place.” “In this high-risk situation, UNSMIS is suspending its operations. U.N. observers will not be conducting patrols and will stay in their locations until further notice,” he announced. “Engagement with the parties will be restricted. This suspension will be reviewed on a daily basis and operations will resume when we see the situation fit.”
Syria’s top Sunni Muslim cleric has warned Western countries against military intervention in Syria and threatened to retaliate with suicide bombings in the United States and Europe if his country comes under attack. Grand Mufti Ahmad Badreddine Hassoun, a state-appointed cleric and Assad loyalist, issued a clear warning to the West.
“I say to all of Europe, I say to America, we will set up suicide bombers who are now in your countries, if you bomb Syria or Lebanon,” Hassoun said in a speech late Sunday. “From now on an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”
Russia on Tuesday said that Syria’s downing of a Turkish jet should not be viewed as a provocation and urged all nations to tone down their rhetoric over the incident. “We believe it is important that the incident is not viewed as a provocation or an intentional action, and that it does not lead to destabilizing the situation,” the foreign ministry said in its first comment on Friday’s Phantom 4 jet downing. “The escalation of political propaganda — including on the international level — is especially dangerous when there are efforts under way to mobilize all influential outside players” in arranging a lasting peace process.
It goes without saying that if the tensions in Syria escalates it could unite Russia and China against the U.S.