Ankara is “continuing to closely monitor” developments as tensions between the United States and Russia flare, the Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said on Thursday.
“There are strong suspicions that the [Syrian] regime conducted the attack. International institutions should carry out investigations. Chemical attacks should not go unpunished. Whether Incirlik Air Base will or will not be used in a potential operation will be discussed on Monday with NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg,” Aksoy said.
Stoltenberg is expected to meet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, and Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli on Monday in Turkey.
“The veto of a U.S. draft resolution at the UN is a missed opportunity,” he added.
Assad prepares to flee ahead of US strike against Syria
As a possible U.S. missile strike against the Syrian regime looms, it is said that a plan to evacuate President Bashar Assad and 45 members of his family from Damascus was prepared by Iranian and Syrian intelligence services, according to Yeni Şafak sources.According to the plan that was approved during a meeting held on April 8, also attended by Assad, the embattled Syrian president and his family would first be brought to Beirut, then they’d be transported to the Iranian capital under Russian protection, where they will stay pending the outcome of the strike.U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday warned of imminent military action in Syria, declaring that missiles “will be coming” after a poison gas attack of the Assad regime killed dozens in Douma.Hiding in a safe house According to local sources, Assad’s Qassr al-Shaab, or the People’s Palace, in Damascus houses a 140-meter-deep underground safe house.According to a former Syrian intelligence chief, Assad has visited Russia’s Hmeimim Military Base in Latakia twice within the past six days alone.According to Lebanon-based Arabic-language Sawt Lubnan, Assad, sensing a possible strike, fled Damascus during meetings held at the UN in the aftermath of the gas attack in Douma.Russia says US would do better to ‘rebuild destroyed Raqqa than talk about firing missiles’Missiles ‘will be coming’ to Syria, Trump warns RussiaBuilt by Lebanon’s Rafik HaririBuilt during the Hafez Assad era, Assad’s palace on Mount Qassiyoun was built by a Lebanese company that belongs to Lebanon’s assassinated Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.The palace’s underground section has over 50 hidden underground chambers that were turned into torture centers since the war erupted in 2011.Underground sections also house documents and confidential information that was smuggled out of regions that Assad lost control over during the uprising of the Arab Spring.According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the Syrian Army has begun to evacuate airports and military bases following the escalating tension in the region in anticipation of any possible U.S. strike.Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011 when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.British PM May summons ministers to discuss possible military action in SyriaTrump, Erdoğan discuss Syria crisis, agree to stay in close touch
Russia vetoed a UN Security Council draft resolution on Tuesday that would have established a new expert body to determine culpability for the suspected chemical attack in the Syrian city of Douma in Eastern Ghouta on April 8.
The U.S. draft had the overwhelming support of the council with 12 of the 15-member council voting in favor and only two – Russia and Bolivia – voting against. China abstained.
It was one of three votes held Tuesday after the White Helmets, a civil defense agency, blamed the Bashar al-Assad regime for attack, which it said killed 78 civilians and injured hundreds of others.
Russia’s latest veto is its twelfth of council resolutions seeking to hold the Assad regime accountable for rights violations. Six of those resolutions would have condemned the regime for chemical weapons attacks.
British PM May summons ministers to discuss possible military action in Syria
British Prime Minister Theresa May summoned her senior ministers to a special cabinet meeting on Thursday to discuss joining the United States and France in possible military action against Syria after a poison gas attack on civilians.U.S. President Donald Trump warned Russia on Wednesday of imminent military action in Syria, declaring that missiles “will be coming” and lambasting Moscow for standing by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.Russia has warned the West against attacking its Syrian ally, which is also supported by Iran, and says there was no chemical attack in the Syrian town of Douma.May recalled the ministers from their Easter holiday for a special cabinet meeting in Downing Street later on Thursday to discuss Britain’s response to what she has cast as a barbaric attack that cannot go unchallenged.The BBC said May was ready to give the go-ahead for Britain to take part in action led by the United States without seeking prior approval from parliament. Downing Street spokesmen repeatedly declined to comment on that report.”The chemical weapons attack that took place on Saturday in Douma in Syria was a shocking and barbaric act,” May told reporters on Wednesday. “All the indications are that the Syrian regime was responsible.”The Daily Telegraph newspaper said May had ordered British submarines to move within missile range of Syria in readiness for strikes against the Syrian military.May is not obliged to win parliament’s approval, but a non-binding constitutional convention to do so has been established since a 2003 vote on joining the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. It has been observed in subsequent military deployments in Libya and Iraq.Britain has been launching air strikes in Syria from its military base in Cyprus, but only against targets linked to the Islamic State militant group.Parliament voted down British military action against Assad’s government in 2013, in an embarrassment for May’s predecessor, David Cameron. That then deterred the U.S. administration of Barack Obama from similar action.
U.S. President Donald Trump warned Russia on Wednesday of imminent military action in Syria over a poison gas attack, declaring that missiles “will be coming” and lambasting Moscow for standing by Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Trump was responding to a Russian warning on Tuesday that any U.S. missiles fired at Syria over the assault on an opposition enclave would be shot down and the launch sites targeted.
“Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!’,” Trump wrote in a post on Twitter.
Turkey sets up camps for Syrians fleeing Eastern Ghouta
The Turkish Red Crescent has set up two more camps for those fleeing parts of Eastern Ghouta controlled by Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, an official from the aid agency said Wednesday. Kadir Akgunduz, the aid group’s Syria field coordinator, told Anadolu Agency that the camps, boasting a 500 and 1,200-person capacity respectively, were set up in the war-torn country’s cities of Azaz and Idlib.The number of camps will be increased, Akgunduz added.“As long as there is a need for camps, we will continue setting up camps,” he said.Apart from Turkish Red Crescent, other aid organizations are also helping people who are fleeing Eastern Ghouta, he added.According to the Syrian Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets, Assad regime forces used toxic gas to strike targets in eastern Ghouta’s Douma district on Saturday, killing at least 78 civilians.Video: Civilians enjoy freedom after Turkey liberates Afrin
Putin, Netanyahu discuss Israeli airstrikes on Syria
Russia’s Vladimir Putin stressed the importance of respecting Syrian sovereignty in a phone call Wednesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuPresident Putin and Netanyahu discussed Israeli airstrikes on a Syrian airbase over the phone, the Kremlin said Wednesday.”The Syrian agenda was discussed, including recent airstrikes launched by Israeli Air Forces on the airbase Tiyas located in the Homs province,” said the statement, published on the Kremlin’s official website. According to the Kremlin, Putin called for abstention from any actions which could “destabilize the situation in Syria and threaten [the country’s security]”.The conversation was initiated by the Israeli side, said the statement.Russia and Syria have accused Israeli jets of firing guided missiles at the Tiyas airbase in Syria’s Homs province having killed 14 people, including Iranian citizens.
Trump, Erdoğan discuss Syria crisis, agree to stay in close touch
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump talked about the latest developments in Syria in a phone call Wednesday, according to the Turkish presidency. The phone call came after Trump warned Russia on Twitter to brace for U.S. military engagement in Syria following a suspected chemical attack in the city of Douma in Eastern Ghouta on April 8 that killed dozens of people. Trump also blamed Russia for being partners with “a gas killing animal”, referring to Syria’s Bashar al-Assad.Trump’s posts on Twitter followed a warning from Moscow that the risk of a direct military clash between Russia and the U.S. in Syria “is higher than before”, with a Russian envoy saying that U.S. missiles flying over the war-ravaged country would be shot down.Video: Trump, Erdoğan discuss Syria crisis, agree to stay in close touch