Did Iran’s Warships Actually Visit Syria This Week? (JEWISH PRESS) By: J. E. Dyer 02/23/12)
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Claudia Rosett writes about the Pentagon statement yesterday that the
US doesn’t think the Iranian warships were ever in Syria these past
few days. You can read that full analysis on Pajamas Media.
Here is the key excerpt:
Pentagon spokesman, George Little, told the press, “We have
absolutely no indication whatsoever the Iranian ships ever docked in
What’s going on here? One day there are two Iranian ships docking in
Syria. Three days later, it seems that, like the Flying Dutchman,
they never made port. Whatever they did during their swing through
the eastern Mediterranean, they are now reported as having left the
area, heading back through the Suez Canal.
These are not phantoms, or flyspecks invisible to the hi-tech eye.
These are ships, substantial objects, which the U.S. certainly has
the ability to track. I can’t claim to know what actually happened,
and, alas, I have no inside sources here. So this is pure
speculation. But it sounds as if the Iranian ships were indeed
heading for Tartus, and then ran into some reason to back off —
leaving the Iranian government to bluster that the ships had docked,
rather than admit they’d chickened out.
I’m not going to write a formal post on the subject, as it’s all just
too dicey, including the cryptic Pentagon assertion, which comes off
to my ear as rather carefully worded. (And I don’t want to make too
much of that. It could mean nothing.) The Israeli Defense Ministry
isn’t commenting publicly on the Pentagon’s assertion either.
At any rate, I want to point out a comment from another naval
professional at Claudia’s PJ Mediapost:
Michael Hoskins, USN Ret
FYI, A destroyer needs to visit a gas station every 5 to 7 days. Fuel
supply can be pushed out further but at risk of getting too low to
respond to anything. Supply ship is not an oiler and Iran does not
know how to refuel at sea (A US tour de force and a NATO skill set).
Something is very odd about this whole thing. By operating
conservatively, the destroyer could have made it from Port Said and
back between 17 Feb, when it reportedly entered the Med, and its
return for a southbound transit through the Canal on the 21st (again,
according to reports). That would imply refueling in Egypt.
But there are discrepancies in this whole incident. Originally, the
Mehr News Agency reported that the ships arrived in Syria on the
17th. (Maybe; although a tad doubtful if the ships were northbound in
the Canal on the 17th.)
Press TV then said they arrived in Syria on the 18th. That was the
story picked up by all the world’s news agencies. Israeli military
spokesmen were interviewed that day on the Iranian warship issue, as
were Suez Canal officials, who said the ships were declared for
The next wave hit on the 20th, Monday, when foreign news agencies
started reporting that the ships had arrived in Tartus on the 20th.
On the 21st, the reports came out that the ships were headed back for
the Canal, presumably having left Tartus that morning.
Syrian News (a heavily propagandistic website aligned with the Assad
regime) reported on the 20th that the city of Tartus welcomed the
Iranian flotilla over the weekend, seeming to confirm the reports of
arrival on the 18th.
Al Jazeera did a phone interview with the captain of the Iranian
destroyer during the period when the ships were reportedly in Tartus.
In the interview, the captain referred to the ships being in Tartus.
In the past day, Lebanese and Israeli reporting quotes Syrian
opposition sources as saying that the Iranian supply ship offloaded
weapons and electronic warfare equipment for the Assad regime.
There are no photos of the ships in port at all, which would seem to
be telling, although the Syrian regime is so hunkered down that it
might not be able to (or want to) bring off photo or video
documentation. The Russians run the naval base at Tartus, but it is
not clear which area of the port complex the Iranian ships supposedly
A number of reports circulating in Europe and the Middle East
referred to the ships “dropping anchor” in Tartus. That may have
simply been ignorance and the inaccurate use of nautical expressions,
but there is also the possibility that one or both of the ships spent
most of their time anchored offshore, rather than moored to a pier in
the port complex itself. The offshore depth is shallow, a good way
out from the Syrian coast, and commercial imagery from recent years
shows lots of tankers and cargo ships still anchoring out, a long-
time practice in the area. To offload cargo, the Syrian supply ship
would have gone to a pier, but perhaps not for more than 8-10 hours,
and perhaps during a period when there was no US surveillance.
One would want a little more detail about this incident to accept
that it just didn’t happen. But it would be good to think that, even
if we don’t stop Russian ships from bringing arms to Syria, or
Venezuelan ships from bringing diesel fuel for tanks and APCs, we are
stopping the Iranians. (© 2012 JewishPress. 02/23/12)
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