NATO, Russian naval-air buildup in E. Mediterranean, French units to Gulf (DEBKAfile) Exclusive Report 07/11/12 11:44 AM (GMT+02:00)
NATO, which proclaims non-involvement in the Syrian conflict, and
Russia, which vows to block foreign military action against the Assad
regime, are both moving large naval forces into the eastern
Mediterranean opposite Syrian shores.
A flotilla of at least 11 Russian warships has been detached from
Black Sea, North Sea and Baltic fleet bases and is on its way to the
Syrian coast for a maneuver; NATO has consigned its rapid response
Maritime Group 2 to the same stretch of sea - where also five Israeli
warships are deployed. The Western alliance has also increased
surveillance flights over the Mediterranean from the Geilenkirchen
air base in Germany.
This rush of military movements is explained officially by the big
air-and-sea exercise launched by Syria Sunday, July 8, to simulate
outside aggression. It follows Iran’s practice of continuous military
drills for repelling mock Western or Israel attacks.
The exercise began with a barrage of dozens of surface-to-sea
missiles simulating naval and shore defense against approaching enemy
craft and landing forces.
At about the same time, Iran embarked on a big air-cum-missile
defense exercise in the south to fight off potential aggression from
the direction of the Gulf of Oman and the Gulf of Aden, where US air
force units are clustered.
DEBKAfile’s military sources report that this is the first
simultaneous, coordinated Syrian-Iranian military maneuver for
drilling action against an advancing enemy. It is synchronized from a
joint headquarters established for the purpose in Damascus.
While these coordinated maneuvers are being presented as designed to
fend off foreign intervention in the Syrian conflict, our sources
report that they are in fact preparing for a potential US attack on
Iran’s nuclear program, which is now expected in Gulf and European
military quarters to take place in October, three months hence.
High-ranking Saudi princes associated with their national military
and intelligence agencies frankly confided to Arab and Western
officials on recent visits to Riyadh that the US and, possibly Israel
too, are on the verge of war on Iran. “It is already decided,” they
say. The only question still open is the date, which could be before
or after the US presidential election on November 6.
In line with this prediction, France is reported in Paris to be
massing a large naval force in the United Arab Emirates. The French
nuclear aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle-R91 is expected to dock
soon at the French naval base in Port Zayid on Abu Dhabi’s
northeastern coast opposite the strategic Strait of Hormuz. The
French are also boosting their air units at Al Dhafra Air Base,
stationing them alongside a large American air force presence.
(Copyright 2000-2012 DEBKAfile. 07/11/12)
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