An American battleship, the USS Bulkeley destroyer, has reportedly entered the Mediterranean and is headed for Syria, equipped with over 50 Tomahawk missiles. This deployment comes after previous reports of the attack submarine USS Newport News (SSN-750) arriving in the Mediterranean, and after the arrival Tuesday of A U.S. Marine Corps small attack carrier full of F-35B stealth jets, the USS Essex, in the Middle East region as detailed by the military website, Task and Purpose.
The Russian news agency Interfax now reports that American forces in the region possess up to 200 Tomahawk cruise missiles available to strike targets in Syria if ordered to do so.
And the USS Essex, part of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), has rapid deployment forces of Marine units designed for immediate amphibious landing in coastal areas, along with a advanced stealth fighter aircraft.
Gerald Olin, commander of Amphibious Squadron of which the Essex is part, has defined the deployment's mission as follows: “The embarked Marines of 13th MEU allow us the flexibility to rapidly respond to crises and set conditions that promote security in the region.”
The build-up in and near the Mediterranean comes amidst a massive Russian navy presence along Syria's coast and after two weeks of threats from US officials that America will react "swiftly and appropriately" should Assad launch a chemical weapons attack.
Though Russian bombing over Idlib began days ago, it appears a full Syrian Army and Russian assault has been delayed partly over the objections of Turkey.
According to Task and Purpose the agile Essex small carrier is designed for quick military action and response:
Until recently, the U.S. had no capital ships and just one or two destroyers in the Mediterranean, but the USS Essex, a small, flat-deck aircraft carrier used to launch U.S. Marine Corps F-35B stealth jets that can take off almost vertically, just arrived off the horn of Africa, USNI News reports.
Though the Essex remains on the opposite side of the Suez Canal from Russia’s ships in the Mediterranean, it’s a quick-moving ship. Additionally, the F-35Bs can fly about 550 miles out from the ship in stealth configurations that make them hard to detect for enemy defenses.
Last week Russia conducted major military drills along Syria's coast as a show of force. On Saturday footage released by Russia’s Defense Ministry showed marine special forces equipped with the latest Russian gear landing on the shores of the Syrian Latakia province.
As part of the staged invasion, the Russian Marines used helicopters, fast attack craft and armored vehicles while landing from major amphibious ships under cover of dozens of Russian combat aircraft.
Meanwhile, Pentagon officials have said that the US “does not seek to fight the Russians, the government of Syria or any groups that may be providing support to Syria."
However, the US responded to the Russian drills by its own drill involving over 100 Marines flown to southeast Syria for "snap live-fire exercises" in order to send a "strong message" to Russia after earlier last week Moscow warned its forces could attack in the area near US-occupied At Tanf.
Just as the U.S. in typical fashion continues lecturing countries like Syria, Russia, and Iran over severe human rights violations, including allegations of everything from launching barrel bomb strikes on civilian areas in Idlib to chemical weapons attacks to sensational spy poisoning ops in the U.K., the Saudi-US coalition in Yemen has attacked another bus full of children and civilians in Yemen.
More than 100 US marines flew to southeast Syria for a snap live-fire exercise, sending a “strong message” to Russia not to conduct operations near the US base, two Pentagon officials told Fox News. The marines were deployed via assault helicopter to Al-Tanf military base, located in Syria’s Homs Province, which borders Iraq. The drill includes air assaults, supported by artillery barrages. “Our forces will demonstrate the capability to deploy rapidly, assault a target with integrated air and ground forces and conduct rapid exfiltration,” said spokesman for the US Central Command, Captain William Urban.
Events are moving rapidly in Syria as Russian jets pound insurgent positions in Idlib Province and as the Syrian Army readies an imminent ground invasion which Damascus has described as coming in a "phased" approach. The White House responded to Syria and its allies initiating the bombing campaign by saying the US would respond “swiftly and vigorously” should chemical weapons be used, and a day ago claimed there's “lots of evidence” chemical weapons are being prepared by the Syrian forces, claiming to have intelligence of such activities.
According to State Department officials, President Trump has recently abandoned his desire to “get out” of Syria and bring US troops home. He has signed a new strategy, which includes new military goals, and eliminates all timelines for removing troops from Syria.
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