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April 10, 2017

"Senior US Official:" Russia Knew Of Coming Syrian Gas Attack Before It Was Launched

I hope Trump is becoming more clear-eyed about Putin. Not that I want to go to war with Russia -- I just don't want the president to have any misapprehensions about this guy's level of ruthlessness.

Big, if true.

A senior U.S. official says the United States has concluded that Russia knew in advance of Syria's chemical weapons attack last week.

The official says a Russian-operated drone flew over a hospital in Syria as victims of the attack were rushing to get treatment.

Hours after the drone left, a Russian-made fighter jet bombed the hospital in what American officials believe was an attempt to cover up the usage of chemical weapons.

Until Monday, U.S. officials had said they weren't sure if the drone was operated by Russia or Syria. The senior official said it still wasn't clear who was flying the jet that bombed the hospital.

In a bit of logic that eludes me, the claim is made that Russia, by dint of having scouted this hospital after the attack, must have known there would be gas-attack victims coming here before the attack (that is, they would have had to have known the attack was coming to get the drone into place in time to see the victims streaming in). I don't see that chain of logic as being flawless, but there you go.

There are also suspicions Russia actively helped bomb the hospital in order to cover up any evidence of the gas attack.

The official disclosing that insisted on anonymity -- but an official who doesn't seem to want anonymity is US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, whose pronouncements about Russia "covering for" or "covering up" Syria's attacks on civilian are fairly clear.

"This is something to let Russia know, 'You know what? We're not going to have you cover for this regime anymore. And we're not going to allow things like this to happen to innocent people,'" Haley said.

Haley indicated that more information about Russia’s possible role in the reported chemical attack could be released soon by U.S. intelligence agencies.

Haley escalated her rhetoric further.

"We're calling (Russia and Iran) out," Haley told "State of the Union" anchor Jake Tapper. "But I don't think anything is off the table at this point. I think what you're going to see is strong leadership. You're going to continue to see the United States act when we need to act."

Haley's comments came after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told lawmakers he would look into stepping up sanctions on both countries, whose leadership supports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who US officials say is responsible for a chemical weapons attack against civilians last week.

Haley isn't alone in sounding hawkish -- SecState Tillerson pronounced that the US would held accountable anyone who commits war crimes against innocent civilians.

I saw some military guy on Fox, maybe Woolsey, suggesting that we wouldn't necessarily take military action against Russia but seek to undermine it by playing the oil card-- maybe he meant urging Saudi Arabia to start pumping out oil like crazy (as this old article suggests) to hurt Russia's very oil-price-sensitive economy.

Over the weekend, Russia sent a cruise missile armed warship towards the two US ships that had launched the cruise missiles against Syria. Russia calls the maneuver "routine," but then, provocation and brinksmanship are in fact routine for Vladimir Putin.

The Russian frigate, Admiral Grigorovich RFS-494, crossed through the Bosphorus Strait... from the Black Sea, according to a U.S. defense official.

The Russian warship is now steaming in the direction of the U.S. warships.

The Admiral Grigorovich is armed with advanced Kalibr cruise missiles.

Russia and Iran have both vowed that further US "aggression" and "crossing of red lines" will be met by force.

RUSSIA and Iran have said they will respond to further American military actions following the air strike in Syria last week.

In a joint statement the command centre for the two countries and allied groups said: “We will respond to any aggression.”

Russia and Iran released a joint statement promising to respond to US aggression
The statement read: "What America waged in an aggression on Syria is a crossing of red lines. From now on we will respond with force to any aggressor or any breach of red lines from whoever it is and America knows our ability to respond well."

Eh, I'm ready. I don't even really care much anymore.

Bring on the end.

I'm a huge fan of Prince but his relentless video-flagging made it hard to link his songs. I guess with his death, his estate is not so vigilant.

One more thing: Obama Administration people seem to be flattering Trump by saying King Putt never could or would have had the nuts to order an airstrike just 48 hours after a chemical attack. Maybe this is legit respect, or maybe it's just Obama's old guard trying to push Trump to do the things they want him to do -- like bombing Moscow for hurting Hillary Clinton's electoral fortunes.

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posted by Ace at 05:47 PM

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