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US struck Syria without certainty on sarin - CNNPolitics
The US did have an analysis of test samples that suggested the presence of chlorine and sarin, but officials told CNN the US was not able to obtain samples directly from the scene and ensure a strict chain of custody to conduct its own testing. There were samples that had been smuggled out, but the US intelligence community did not have solid intelligence on where the material came from and whose hands it was in the entire time, officials said.
Mar15  Damascus  CW  TrumpAdministration 
6 days ago by elizrael
Israel Conferred With U.S. on Strike in Syria to Target Iranian War Gear - WSJ
With tacit American support, the Israeli military targeted an advanced Iranian air-defense system at a Syrian base last week, said intelligence officials and others briefed on the matter, the latest sign the Trump administration is working with Israel to blunt Tehran’s expanding influence in the Middle East.

After conferring with President Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered a strike on the newly arrived antiaircraft battery to prevent Iranian forces from using it against Israeli warplanes carrying out increasing numbers of operations in Syria, some of these people said.

In response to the February strike, Iran moved to beef up its air defenses at the base. Earlier this month, Israel tracked an Iranian plane that flew a Tor missile system from Tehran to the Syrian base.

Israel moved quickly to destroy the new air defense system before Iranian forces could set it up, intelligence officials said.

The Israeli strike came five days later, on April 9. Israel destroyed the antiaircraft system at the Syrian base and a hanger used to shelter drones, triggering denunciations from Syria, Russia and Iran. Iranian media said seven Iranian military advisers were killed, including an officer who oversaw drone operations.
Mar15  Iran  attack  AA  Israel  Netanyahu  TrumpAdministration 
7 days ago by elizrael
U.S. Seeks Arab Force and Funding for Syria - WSJ
John Bolton, President Donald Trump’s new national security adviser, recently called Abbas Kamel, Egypt’s acting intelligence chief, to see if Cairo would contribute to the effort, officials said.

The initiative comes as the administration has asked Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to contribute billions of dollars to help restore northern Syria. It wants Arab nations to send troops as well, officials said.
Egypt  UAE  Qatar  Saudi-Arabia  Bolton  TrumpAdministration  Mar15  ForeignFighters 
9 days ago by elizrael
Israeli intelligence: Objectives of Western strike in Syria not achieved
"If President Trump had ordered the strike only to show that the US responded to Assad's use of chemical weapons, then that goal has been achieved," according to a senior defense establishment official. "But if there was another objective—such as paralyzing the ability to launch chemical weapons or deterring Assad from using it again—it's doubtful any of these objectives have been met."
The bottom line, the officials said, is that "only a partial damage was caused to the chemical weapons stockpiles and launch capabilities."
"If you want to shoot—shoot, don't talk," quoted a diplomatic source. "In the American case, this is mostly talk. They themselves show actions are not going to follow," he criticized.
Mar15  TrumpAdministration  Trump  israel  intelligence_assessment  CW  Assad 
9 days ago by elizrael
Pompeo confirms 'a couple hundred' Russians killed in Syria | TheHill
“A handful of weeks ago, the Russians met their match. A couple hundred Russians were killed,” Pompeo told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during his confirmation hearing.
Mar15  mercenaries  DeirEzZor  SDF  TrumpAdministration  USG 
11 days ago by elizrael
Trump scales back US goals in Syria, leaves future to others
Trump has given no formal order to pull out the 2,000 U.S. troops currently in Syria, nor offered a public timetable, other than to say the United States will pull out just as soon as the last remaining IS fighters can be vanquished. But Trump has signaled to his advisers that ideally, he wants all troops out within six months, according to three U.S. officials — a finale that would come shortly before the U.S. midterm elections.

In his haste to withdraw from Syria, Trump stands alone. The Pentagon, the State Department and CIA are all deeply concerned about the potential ramifications if the U.S. leaves behind a power vacuum in Syria, as are Israel, Arab leaders and other nations in the U.S.-led coalition that has fought IS in Iraq and Syria since 2014.

Urging him to slow down, Trump’s aides have been emphasizing that IS fighters remain active in Syria, evidence that Trump’s own, publicly stated objective — the total defeat of IS — has yet to be met. Officials said the U.S. is tracking two pockets where IS remains viable — one in the Middle Euphrates Valley Region, another along the Iraq-Syria border. And despite the White House’s insistence that the group is “almost completely defeated,” a string of renewed IS attacks in recent weeks has raised fears about a resurgence.
Trump  TrumpAdministration  DoD  State_Department  decision_making  ForeignFighters  withdrawal  Mar15 
20 days ago by elizrael
Trump gets testy as national security team warns of risks of Syria withdrawal - CNNPolitics
In a sometimes-tense meeting of his national security team, Trump complained at length about the amount of American money being spent in the region, which he said had produced nothing for the US in return, according to senior administration officials.
And he continued to question why other countries in the region -- particularly the wealthy Gulf nations -- haven't stepped in.

Despite his annoyance and public statement to the contrary, Trump agreed to hold off on immediately pulling troops from the war-plagued nation, even after airing his displeasure with top national security officials.
CIA  Trump  decision_making  foreign_policy  TrumpAdministration  Mar15  ForeignFighters 
20 days ago by elizrael
1 big thing: The case for extreme worry
To White House insiders, this is the most dangerous phase of Donald Trump's presidency so far, from the brewing trade war with China that he denies is a trade war, to the perilously spontaneous summit with North Korea:

Checks are being ignored or have been eliminated, and critics purged.
The president is filling time by watching Fox, and by eating dinner with people who feed his ego and conspiracy theories, and who drink in his rants.
Both sides are getting more polarized and dug in — making the daily reality more absurd, and the potential consequences less urgent and able to grab people’s serious attention. 
Be smart: Trump’s closest confidants speak with an unusual level of concern, even alarm, and admit to being confused about what the president will do next —  and why.

This is different than a few months ago, when they were more bemused and supportive.
21 days ago by toddmundt
Trump Freezes Funds for Syrian Recovery, Signaling Pullback - WSJ
President Donald Trump froze more than $200 million in funds for recovery efforts in Syria as his administration reassesses Washington’s broader role in the protracted conflict there.

The White House ordered the State Department to put the spending on hold, U.S. officials said, a decision in line with Mr. Trump’s declaration on Thursday that America would exit Syria and “let the other people take care of it now.”

Mr. Trump called for the freeze after reading a news report noting that the U.S. had recently committed an additional $200 million to support early recovery efforts in Syria, said the officials. Departing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson pledged the money in February in Kuwait at a meeting of the coalition to defeat Islamic State.
Mar15  Trump  TrumpAdministration  aid  PYD  State_Department  decision_making 
26 days ago by elizrael
‘It’s Very Difficult to Overestimate the Potential Danger John Bolton Could Put Us In’ - POLITICO Magazine
Excellent episode with Jake Sullivan talking about John Bolton and also some of the foreign policy failures of the Obama administration.
26 days ago by toddmundt
Emails reveal conservative alarm over ‘Obama holdovers’ in Trump administration - POLITICO
This is very likely illegal discrimination. But also how messed up is it that Iranian name + supporting deal leads to Iranian agent???
racism  politico  paranoia  iran  statedepartment  trumpadministration 
6 weeks ago by UltraNurd

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