Syrian Chemical Weapons and Western Retaliation?

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Re: Syrian Chemical Weapons and Western Retaliation?

Postby SandTea » Sun Apr 15, 2018 9:57 pm

Dog, it's fine to not accept claims without having the evidence laid out before you. Although this does sound a whole lot like the atheist accused of believing "god doesn't exist" because he doesn't accept the claim one does.

DoglovingJim wrote:A lie told often enough becomes the truth, that is something which I feel is occurring within our media as it becomes more sensational and less informative. Like Apostle Thomas who refused to accept the resurrection of Christ


Oh. I see. Well, never mind. I recommend better sources for information from the media then. Also...

DoglovingJim wrote:I will reject evidence from our media based on emotion and demand to see the actual evidence for these claims they make before I can actually accept something. Nothing wrong with harboring skepticism when one isn't convinced by statements made, especially not when one finds other potential perspectives equally valid until proven otherwise.


Equally valid as in, not to be believed right? If both the thinking that daesh or assadd could have done it then my only complaint is that you are coming off as very pro- assadd/russia and very anti Kurd/rest of the world. I hope that made some sense and is helpful to this back and forth that keeps happening. Also something about a black swan.

I intentionally spelled assad with an extra D because I'm childish and "ass add" makes me laugh
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Re: Syrian Chemical Weapons and Western Retaliation?

Postby Doodle Dee. Snickers » Mon Apr 16, 2018 1:02 am

SandTea wrote:Dog, it's fine to not accept claims without having the evidence laid out before you. Although this does sound a whole lot like the atheist accused of believing "god doesn't exist" because he doesn't accept the claim one does.

DoglovingJim wrote:A lie told often enough becomes the truth, that is something which I feel is occurring within our media as it becomes more sensational and less informative. Like Apostle Thomas who refused to accept the resurrection of Christ


Oh. I see. Well, never mind. I recommend better sources for information from the media then. Also...

DoglovingJim wrote:I will reject evidence from our media based on emotion and demand to see the actual evidence for these claims they make before I can actually accept something. Nothing wrong with harboring skepticism when one isn't convinced by statements made, especially not when one finds other potential perspectives equally valid until proven otherwise.


Equally valid as in, not to be believed right? If both the thinking that daesh or assadd could have done it then my only complaint is that you are coming off as very pro- assadd/russia and very anti Kurd/rest of the world. I hope that made some sense and is helpful to this back and forth that keeps happening. Also something about a black swan.

I intentionally spelled assad with an extra D because I'm childish and "ass add" makes me laugh


Look, guys, this is very simple. Someone get on a plane, get your ass to Syria, grab Assad, bring him here, and just ask him on a webcam so we can all watch, and he'll spill it all and we can finally settle this, alright?
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Re: Syrian Chemical Weapons and Western Retaliation?

Postby DoglovingJim » Mon Apr 16, 2018 3:26 am

sunglasses wrote:Alledgedly, Assad was warned before the strike. Not the most unlikely scenario.

Meanwhile we have chemical attacks, mass bombings and no one wants the refugees in their backyard but the same people refusing refugees are crying foul about human rights abuses and trying to play the moral high ground. It's frustrating.

Also saw someone on Twitter claim the bombing was worth every penny.

They had linked a picture of the royal palace in Iraq being bombed back in the early 2000s. Wrong country, wrong decade, wrong bombing. Geez, keep your bombings straight random Twitter people.


Did the subsequent missile attacks even have any casualties? I just can't find anything involving casualties and it makes me scratch my head. Like a few pages ago someone speculated along the lines of Syria and Russia being warned so they could move all their gear to other bases, which could be possible but I don't understand why Russia didn't go through with their promise of shooting down any missiles instead because now it makes them lose face. Of course they would save military assets and they have that to gain, but internationally now Putin is viewed as the "guy who blinked first".

EDIT: Of course preventing ww3 is desirable but in that case they could have just shot down the missiles and not shot the targets that fired them.

I'm just waiting to see how all that unfolds.

EDIT-EDIT:
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-04-16/russias-putin-warns-global-chaos-if-west-strikes-syria-again/9661662

More warnings, that's how.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

As for Sandtea, both suspects in my opinion are equally valid to have been the culprit (actually in my personal opinion I feel the rebels had better motivations but that is based on speculation and not evidence), at the moment they are both innocent until proven guilty.

But in regards to the general consensus among this thread I am forced to come more strongly defending the Syrian Government as it seems like instead of acknowledging them as simply a suspect in this matter you guys are saying they are guilty in a matter-of-fact manner. And condemnation of a suspect without being proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt is just something that doesn't click with me, so for the sake of diversity I made it known of my views of the matter in case someone else had similar views but felt intimidated in mentioning it.

And as you can probably see I am certainly not happy with the idea that a foreign nation can do missile strikes on what I consider to be merely one suspect of the chemical attack, and that is making me more vocal on the subject. If it was done on the smaller local policing scale we could use an analogy of police beating up a black man and arresting him simply because near the area an unidentified black man robbed a convenience store and he was 'close enough'. That's how I currently feel about the whole thing.

I probably am biased towards Syria considering I don't like anything about this civil war and I certainly do not have a good view regarding the rebels, but until proper evidence comes I can't condemn neither party in regards to who committed the chemical attack. Like my analogy regarding Thomas, I have to actually feel the holes in which the nails drove through in order to convince me.

P.S; Gave me a bit of a chuckle but I just want to say that the only time Donald Trump doesn't have the masses fact-checking him and saying he was completely "talking out of his ass" is when he talks regarding Syria.
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Re: Syrian Chemical Weapons and Western Retaliation?

Postby Tesseracts » Mon Apr 16, 2018 5:18 am

Is it possible for a world war to happen in todays world? There is only one superpower.
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Re: Syrian Chemical Weapons and Western Retaliation?

Postby DoglovingJim » Mon Apr 16, 2018 6:14 am

Tesseracts wrote:Is it possible for a world war to happen in todays world? There is only one superpower.

Only one superpower? If you're referring to America I would say they are not as strong as they used to be, I'd say that we have multiple in a similar position (China comes to mind for example). And even if we didn't have any superpowers I sure we could have a world war, the combatants in the first two were not all superpowers and those countries are certainly more advanced then they used to be.

However a world war in today's age would almost certainly result in mutual destruction, unless the one who is losing through conventional means is honorable and would rather surrender than launch such an attack.
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Re: Syrian Chemical Weapons and Western Retaliation?

Postby blehblah » Mon Apr 16, 2018 1:42 pm

From what I understand, Russia had not deployed their most sophisticated air defenses in Syria. If they do deploy their latest and greatest, Western air forces would have a much tougher time pulling-off a strike like this.

To Tess' question; a conventional war between the US and pretty-much anyone else would be lopsided. The US has conventional forces which are wildly beyond what anyone else has. Russia has one aircraft carrier, and it's a mess. China is building more carriers, and just sailed a carrier group through the South China Sea, as a matter of fact.

While the US continues to build their new Ford-class carriers, there is a lot of debate about the usefulness of carriers. For example, the Russian carrier, Admiral Kuznetsov, is a bit of a gong show as a carrier (they lost two warplanes when using it in Syria; not shot-down, just kinda, crashed - this is a carrier that, from Wikipedia, "accompanied by an ocean-going tugboat, as a precaution due to potential propulsion failure."). However, the Kuznetsov isn't exactly what we think of as a pure carrier; it carries twelve Granit anti-ship missiles, which are nasty little devils. In a navy-to-navy battle, it is far more likely that those anti-ship missiles would sink something than warplanes.

The problem carriers have today is those anti-ship missiles. They have long ranges. The Granit is something like 600 Km, which doesn't sound like much, until you put them on a sub. Other missiles have much longer ranges. The warplanes on carriers can't match the longer ranges. Either the carrier stays away, and is effectively useless, or it gets sunk. The US is currently developing unmanned refueling drones to extend the range of their carrier-based warplanes.

However, the powers which have such anti-ship tech also have other tech which makes the whole debate moot. An all-out war between the US and a power like Russia or China would come-down to nukes. Even at that, China doesn't have the same nuclear triad capabilities as the US and Russia.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_triad

China's nuclear force is closer in number and capability to France or the United Kingdom, making it much smaller that that of the United States or Russia. Their nuclear force is mainly land-based missiles which include ICBMs, IRBMs, tactical ballistic missiles, and cruise missiles.


They certainly have enough that you don't want to get into it with them, but not exactly 'nuke every last motherfucker' levels of nukes.

Going back to Russia, we have to keep in-mind that while they have a large nuclear arsenal, they don't have conventional capabilities which come close to the US. At this point, China could very-well be capable of slapping-around Russia, conventionally. It all comes down to a simple thing:

http://statisticstimes.com/economy/coun ... ed-gdp.php

You'll see Canada's projected nominal GDP for 2018 ranked at 10, while Russia is 12. The US and China are 1 and 2 (and there is still a wide margin between them).

Simply put, Russia doesn't have the money to support conventional forces on a scale that is anywhere close to the US. They also have to keep pouring money into their nuclear triad to maintain that backstop. This is why Putin recently showed-off nuke delivery systems Russia is working on. That stuff costs a pretty penny, and Russia is getting squeezed by sanctions and low oil prices. However, the message is clear - Russia is still a very potent nuclear threat to the US.

Overall, a world war is unlikely for the same reason it's been unlikely since the 1950's - mutually assured destruction. If it started conventionally, the US would quickly gain the upper hand, even against China and Russia combined. Either it would end at the front door of Russia and/or China (just before the nukes fly), or we're all dead.

Note that those Granit missiles can have a small-ish nuclear warhead. What happens if a few of those take-out an entire US carrier group? Does the US then say, "fuck it", and send the nuclear triad to the Russian homeland, or continue as a forces-to-forces battle? What happens if the US starts blowing-up Russian submarines, and Russia feels their nuclear triad capability is about to be compromised?

Scary shit, all around. This is what makes Ukraine, Syria, and the South China Sea so tricky. Hopefully, even if there is a scuffle, it doesn't escalate. Though I loathe Putin, I at least trust him to be rational, as I do the leadership in China. Not so much the other guy.
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Re: Syrian Chemical Weapons and Western Retaliation?

Postby Anglerphobe » Mon Apr 16, 2018 5:28 pm

Jim, what level of evidence would you need to condemn Assad in this case?

So far, we can say that Douma, the place that was attacked, was a known government target in a known government operation attacking rebel held Ghouta, the attack used a weapon the government is known to use and delivered in a manner consistent with the government's usual military methods, by a means (helicopter air attack) only available to government which is known to have been in use in that area at that time. For me, this is easily enough to indict the government. I'm curious as to why it's not sufficient for you, and what sort of evidence you would consider to eliminate "reasonable doubt".
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Re: Syrian Chemical Weapons and Western Retaliation?

Postby DoglovingJim » Tue Apr 17, 2018 9:41 am

Anywayyy, don't want to continue to hijack this thread for solely my own skepticism (which remains) so lets get back on track.

(Here is a White House issued assessment of what happened)
The United States assesses with confidence that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons in the eastern Damascus suburb of Duma on April 7, 2018, killing dozens of men, women, and children, and severely injuring hundreds more. This conclusion is based on descriptions of the attack in multiple media sources, the reported symptoms experienced by victims, videos and images showing two assessed barrel bombs from the attack, and reliable information indicating coordination between Syrian military officials before the attack. A significant body of information points to the regime using chlorine in its bombardment of Duma, while some additional information points to the regime also using the nerve agent sarin. This is not an isolated incident—the Syrian regime has a clear history of using chemical weapons even after pledging that it had given up its chemical weapons program.

Chemical Weapons Use on April 7, 2018

A large body of information indicates that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons in the Duma area of East Ghutah, near Damascus, on April 7, 2018. Our information is consistent and corroborated by multiple sources. These chemical weapons were used as part of a weeks-long offensive against this densely populated opposition-held enclave. This assault has killed and wounded thousands of innocent civilians.

On April 7, social media users, non-governmental organizations, and other open-source outlets reported a chemical weapons bombardment in Duma. Videos and images show the remnants of at least two chlorine barrel bombs from the attacks with features consistent with chlorine barrel bombs from past attacks. In addition, a large volume of high-resolution, reliable photos and video from Duma clearly documents victims suffering from asphyxiation and foaming at the mouth, with no visible signs of external wounds. The World Health Organization (WHO) issued a statement about its concern over suspected chemical attacks in Syria, noting that victims showed symptoms consistent with exposure to toxic chemicals.

Multiple government helicopters were observed over Duma on April 7, with witnesses specifically reporting a Mi-8 helicopter, known to have taken off from the Syrian regime's nearby Dumayr airfield, circling over Duma during the attack. Numerous eyewitnesses corroborate that barrel bombs were dropped from these helicopters, a tactic used to target civilians indiscriminately throughout the war. Photos of barrel bombs dropped in Duma closely match those used previously by the regime. These barrel bombs were likely used in the chemical attack. Reliable intelligence also indicates that Syrian military officials coordinated what appears to be the use of chlorine in Duma on April 7. Following these barrel bomb attacks, doctors and aid organizations on the ground in Duma reported the strong smell of chlorine and described symptoms consistent with exposure to sarin.

The symptoms described in reporting from media, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and other open sources—such as the WHO—include miosis (constricted pupils), convulsions, and disruption to central nervous systems. These symptoms, in addition to the dozens of deaths and hundreds of injuries reported, suggest that the regime also used sarin in its attacks on April 7.

The Assad regime chooses to deploy chemical weapons to terrorize and subdue both opposition fighters and the civilian population. It seeks to minimize regime casualties, in part because its military lacks the strength needed to otherwise prevail. Because the regime's intent is to terrorize, it makes no effort to discriminate between military and civilian targets. By using these banned weapons and wantonly bombarding civilian neighborhoods with conventional munitions and crude barrel bombs, Assad is collectively punishing his own people as a warning against further rebellion. Further, Assad uses chemical weapons in a manner to maximize suffering, such as against families huddled in underground shelters, as was seen in Duma—a population that was already negotiating for surrender and evacuation.

The regime's continued use of chemical weapons threatens to desensitize the world to their use and proliferation, weaken prohibitions against their use, and increase the likelihood that additional states will acquire and use these weapons. To underscore this point, not only has Russia shielded the Assad regime from accountability for its chemical weapons use, but on March 4, 2018, Russia used a nerve agent in an attempted assassination in the United Kingdom, showing an uncommonly brazen disregard for the taboo against chemical weapons.

In this case—as with previous instances of regime chemical weapons use—United States experts considered alternative explanations beyond the Syrian regime's culpability for chemical weapons use. Within hours of the first allegation of chemical use on April 7, Syria's state-run news agency painted the reports as a smear campaign by the last remaining opposition group in East Ghouta, Jaysh al-Islam. We have no information to suggest that this group has ever used chemical weapons. Further, it is unlikely that the opposition could fabricate this volume of media reports on regime chemical weapons use. Such a widespread fabrication would require a highly organized and compartmented campaign to deceive multiple media outlets while evading our detection. The Syrian regime and Russia have also claimed that a terrorist group conducted the attacks or that the attacks were staged are not consistent with the existing body of credible information. The Syrian regime, conversely, has already been condemned by United Nations (UN) investigators for past and continued chemical weapons attacks. It is the only actor in Syria with both the motive and the means to deploy nerve agents. The use of helicopters further implicates the regime; no non-state group has conducted air operations in the conflict.

Precedent of Chemical Weapons Use and Retention of Assets

The Assad regime continues to flout international agreements to which it has assented, even after Russia agreed to act as a guarantor of the regime's compliance and claimed that the Syrian chemical weapons program had been neutralized. The Syrian regime and Russia have also worked to undermine international inspection and accountability mechanisms. Assad used sarin in November 2017, as the UN entity for attributing chemical use in Syria expired, ensuring that no UN Security Council (UNSC)-authorized investigative body remained to determine blame for chemical attacks. Since that time, the regime has also used chlorine on multiple occasions. The U.S. assessments of these attacks are based on credible, public information showing victims with symptoms of nerve agent exposure, including pinpoint pupils, as well as munitions of a type that largely matches previously assessed regime chemical munitions.

The Syrian regime has repeatedly used chemical weapons to compensate for its lack of military manpower, to achieve battlefield goals, and to compel rebel surrender, especially when the regime believes critical infrastructure or territory in the core of the country to be at risk. The regime has also demonstrated a willingness to use chemical weapons against entrenched opposition forces to maintain offensive momentum when as it calculates this behavior will not be detected and punished.

The Syrian regime's chemical weapons attacks on Duma were part of an effort to recapture the city in order to eliminate the final opposition pocket in East Ghutah capable of threatening the capital. The regime also seeks to punish Duma's civilian population, who have long resisted Assad's domination, as a deterrent to further rebellion. The regime took advantage of Russia's protection to use chemical weapons to advance its assault on Duma.

If not stopped, Syria has the ability to produce and use more chemical weapons. The Syrian military retains expertise from its traditional chemical weapons agent program to both use sarin and produce and deploy chlorine munitions. The United States also assesses the regime still has chemicals—specifically, sarin and chlorine—that it can use in future attacks and that the regime retains the expertise necessary to develop new weapons. The Syrian military also has a variety of chemical-capable munitions—including grenades, aerial bombs, and improvised munitions—that it can use with little to no warning.

Last fall, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) determined Syria was responsible for the sarin attack on Khan Shaykhun in April 2017. This determination was based in part on sample analysis that linked signatures from the Khan Shaykhun attack to previous samples from the Syrian regime's sarin stockpile, making clear that Syria retained chemical weapons well past its promise that it had destroyed its stockpiles and eliminated its program.

Chlorine Use Only Weeks after Khan Shaykhun

The most recent attack in Duma represents a continuation of the Syrian regime's pattern of chemical weapons use. Only weeks after the Syrian regime used sarin on Khan Shaykhun, it dropped chlorine barrel bombs as many as three times on opposition forces between April 29 and May 6, 2017, as regime forces attacked toward Al Lataminah, near Khan Shaykhun, where the Syrian regime used sarin in April 2017. The United States has indications of regime helicopters in the vicinity of the targets around this time, pictures of an unexploded chlorine barrel bomb consistent with munitions the regime has used in previous chemical attacks, and a video of chemicals being dispersed. This evidence is consistent with what the OPCW-UN JIM detailed in its fall 2016 reports assigning responsibility to the regime for chlorine attacks in 2014 and 2015. Since 2014, the regime has used chlorine in similar battlefronts to terrorize opponents and break their will to fight.

- Photos of barrel bombs used in at least one of these attacks were consistent with regime-designed chlorine barrel bombs used throughout the conflict.

- Regime helicopters were in the vicinity around the time chemical weapons attacks occurred and in the same area where we identified public allegations. At least one public video of the attack showed footage of helicopters in the area.

- Victim accounts of these events specifically mentioned chlorine—including its distinctive odor after the attack—and symptoms consistent with chlorine exposure, including respiratory distress.

- In one of the attacks, pro-opposition social media video footage showed the explosion of a munition that resulted in a yellow-green plume consistent with the dissemination of chlorine.

Chemical Weapons Attacks in Damascus Area

On November 18, 2017, the Syrian regime used sarin against opposition forces in the Damascus suburb of Harasta as part of an increased effort to recapture an opposition stronghold that had resisted Assad's rule for several years. This attack resulted in dozens of injuries and deaths. This assessment is based on credible public information showing victims with symptoms of nerve agent exposure, including pinpoint pupils, and details on the munition type that largely match previously assessed regime chemical munitions.

- A Western NGO received patients suffering from a variety of symptoms, including constricted pupils, coughing, vomiting, and abnormally slow breathing. Some public videos referred to "nerve gas" or an "organophosphate," which would be consistent with the victims' accounts of constricted pupils. Social media and the press estimated varying numbers of casualties, including 19 fatalities and 37 injuries.

- The symptoms described are unlikely to have resulted from a conventional attack given the lack of other injuries associated with conventional weapons use. For instance, we have no reporting of victims experiencing the severe burns that would be expected with white phosphorus exposure.

- Social media reported that regime forces conducted the attack with hand grenades containing toxic gas, which further suggests that sarin was used in the attack.

- The United States assesses that the regime has produced and used sarin-filled hand grenades since 2013 and retained them after acceding to the Chemical Weapons Convention.

- In a public statement in late April 2017, France compared the sarin it detected in samples associated with the Khan Shaykhun attack to its laboratory analysis of sarin-filled grenades the regime used in April 2013.

On January 22, 2018, the regime used at least four chlorine-filled rockets in Duma, demonstrating its willingness and capability to use multiple types of small-scale chemical munitions. A large body of social media and press reporting provided not only written accounts of the event but also images and videos that increased our confidence that a chemical was used and that the Syrian regime was responsible.

- Social media accounts note the attack resulted in tens of victims, including at least some women and children, suffering from symptoms such as asphyxiation, consistent with chlorine exposure. Several photos of the children receiving medical care after the attack were posted to such social media accounts.

- Images of munition fragments from this attack have similar design attributes to chlorine-filled rockets that the regime used in attacks in the Damascus area in early 2017. Multiple public accounts of the January 22 attack also noted that victims smelled a chlorine odor—an indicator of chemical use that we have observed in previous regime chlorine attacks.

Given recent regime chemical use in Duma and Harasta, the continued allegations of chemical use in the Damascus area, and the regime's use of chemicals under similar battlefield conditions, we are convinced that there have been other instances of both sarin and chlorine use in this area that we have not verified. We are also convinced the regime will continue to use such munitions.

- The regime's likely objective was to retake the East Ghutah area. East Ghutah has been one of the last pockets of territory in the Damascus suburbs held by entrenched opposition forces. The regime sought to defeat similarly entrenched opposition forces during the Aleppo offensive in fall 2016, where it repeatedly used chlorine.

- Syria's return to small, ground-launched munitions to deliver these toxic chemicals reflects CW tactics employed earlier in the conflict that gave regime ground forces a standoff capability to target personnel in sheltered areas such as buildings and tunnels, similar to those the Syrian regime has faced in East Ghutah.

- Since June 2017, we have identified more than 15 reports of chemical use in East Ghutah. Additionally, accounts of at least four alleged attacks in East Ghutah—including in the towns of Harasta and Jawbar—between July and November 2017 have mentioned chemical hand grenades, such as those we assess were used in Harasta.

This history clearly illustrates the Assad regime's consistent use of chemical weapons. Such use will continue until the costs to the regime of using these weapons outweigh any idea that they may provide military advantages


And here is the current view in Russia (accusing Britain for staging the chemical attack with the help of White Helmets, although no evidence was presented).
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Re: Syrian Chemical Weapons and Western Retaliation?

Postby DoglovingJim » Fri Apr 20, 2018 3:07 am

Double post

Adding onto the levels of technology between America and countries like Russia and China regarding potential direct conflict (perhaps we should split the thread since ww3 hasn't got anything to do with the chemical attack in Syria).

The US Air Force is awarding almost $1 billion (£700m) to Lockheed Martin to develop a hypersonic missile as it tries to keep up with recent strides made by Russia and China in building ever faster weapons.

Moscow last month claimed the lead in the race to develop missiles that can travel at many times the speed of sound. Its defence ministry revealed video footage of its plane-launched Kinzhal missile, which is reportedly capable of accelerating to ten times the speed of sound.

American officials have also expressed concern that China was building missiles that could outrace or outfox its existing defence and interceptor systems.

Now the Pentagon says Lockheed is to receive up to $929 million to design and build a “hypersonic conventional strike weapon”.

“This contract provides for the design, development, engineering, systems integration, test, logistics planning, and aircraft integration support of all the elements of a hypersonic, conventional, air-launched, stand-off weapon,” it said in a statement.

The technology is at the forefront of today’s non-nuclear arms race.

Most efforts focus on “boost-glide” weapons that use rockets to accelerate to high speeds at the edge of space, before the payload separates and glides unpowered to the target.

Not only can they outrun efforts to shoot them down, but they can be manoeuvred in-flight unlike ballistic missiles that follow parabolic trajectories.

Last month, Vladimir Putin claimed that Russia had tested a new generation of nuclear weapons that were invulnerable to US missile defences.

His rhetoric was backed up days later when the defence ministry released footage of a Kinzhal – Russian for “dagger” - missile being launched from a Mig-31 fighter jet.

Earlier this week, Mike Griffin, the Pentagon's new defence undersecretary for research and engineering told Congress that China had also pulled ahead of the US in hypersonic technologies.


“Our adversaries are presenting us today with a renewed challenge of a sophisticated, evolving threat,” he told the House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday.

“We are in turn preparing to meet that challenge and to restore the technical overmatch of the United States armed forces that we have traditionally held.”

He has repeatedly warned that time is running out for the US to maintain its technological dominance over enemies.



EDIT:
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-04-27/russia-presents-alleged-syrian-witnesses-to-opcw/9702128
Russia has presented more than a dozen alleged witnesses from Ghouta in Syria at The Hague to support its claim that the chemical attack this month was "staged".

Key points:
15 Syrians brought to news conference in The Hague
They said they had not seen evidence of chemical weapon use in Ghouta
Russia's ambassador to the Netherlands said video "staged" by White Helmets
Britain dismissed the move as a theatrical "stunt", and said allied powers including France and the United States had boycotted the closed-door briefing.

"The OPCW [Organisation for the Prohibition for Chemical Weapons] is not a theatre," Britain's envoy to the agency, Peter Wilson, said in a statement.

"Russia's decision to misuse it is yet another Russian attempt to undermine the OPCW's work, and in particular the work of its fact-finding mission investigating chemical weapons use in Syria."

The OPCW is investigating the deaths of dozens of people in Douma, an enclave in Ghouta, on April 7 which the United States and its allies said was caused by chemical weapons, possibly a nerve agent, used by forces of the Russian-backed Government of President Bashar al-Assad.

The suspected attacks led to air strikes by the United States, France and Britain against sites in Syria.

Both Syria and Russia have denied the accusation and said rebel forces staged the attacks.

Russia and Syria brought 15 Syrians to a news conference in The Hague on Thursday (local time), and they said they had not seen any evidence of chemical weapons being used in Ghouta.

One child, identified by Syrian Government-provided translators as 11-year-old Hasan Diab from Ghouta, said he had been to a hospital after the attack.

"They started pouring water on me in the hospital. I don't know why," he said.

Spoiler: show
Image


The boy resembled the child seen in a video widely shown on Western television stations after the alleged attack.

Russia's ambassador to the Netherlands said the video was "staged" by the White Helmets, a Syrian aid group that receives funding from the US and other Western governments.

OPCW investigators on the spot visited a second site in Ghouta on Wednesday to take samples.

France's Ambassador to the OPCW, Philippe Lalliot, called the display of Syrians in The Hague "obscene".

"This … does not come as a surprise from the Syrian Government, which has massacred and gassed its own people for the last seven years," he said.

He said it was more surprising coming from Russia.

"One cannot but wonder if the weaker [Syria] is not taking the stronger [Russia] on a path beyond its interests, if not its values."


Update:
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-04-28/hassan-becomes-face-of-information-war-surrounding-syria-douma/9705538

The boy
Depending on who you believe, 11-year-old Hassan Diab is the victim of a chemical gas attack ordered by Bashar al-Assad's brutal regime, or: he's an unwitting pawn in a fabrication by rebel forces who deliberately staged the attack as a "provocation".

Either way, the Syrian boy has become the face of a broader story about war propaganda: initially portrayed by the West as a victim, he's since become the face of Russia's claims that the chemical attack was a fiction.

Hassan is the boy filmed at a hospital in Douma late on April 7, with apparent symptoms from being gassed with chlorine or the nerve agent sarin.

He is seen rubbing his eyes as he stands alongside other patients, who appear distressed, unconscious or seriously ill.

Syrian opposition groups, including the White Helmets, told Western media that scores of people died in the attack — many in the basement of an apartment building.

But Russia and Syria have gone to extraordinary lengths to try to prove the chemical attack never happened, and that photos and video posted online were deliberately staged.

'Witnesses' flown to Europe
Russia and Syria on Thursday flew Hassan and 15 other Syrians to Europe, to support their claims there was no chemical attack on Douma on April 7.

These "witnesses" appeared at a press conference at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in the Hague — the same agency that has sent a team of weapons inspectors to Douma to investigate evidence of a chemical attack.

The 11-year-old boy told assembled media that he was with his mother in the basement of a building in Douma when they were suddenly told to rush to the hospital.

"They started pouring water on me at the hospital. I don't know why," he said.

The boy's statement replicates a similar account he gave to Russian state television in Syria last week. In a report on Russia Today his father said it was water that caused his son to rub his eyes.

"I was very surprised and asked what had happened, why my son's eyes were red. I found out that it was water, but it was cold," his father said.

"He could have got sick, he was undressed."

Russia's Ambassador to the OPCW, Alexander Shulgin, has defended bringing the boy to The Hague.

"Little Hassan is an eyewitness … he's telling the truth," he said.

"After this briefing, no one would have a shadow of a doubt who distributes fake news and who is waging an information war."

Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad has told Britain's ITV network that children from Douma were treated for sand inhalation rather than poison gas.

"There are no obvious injuries," he said.

"I believe what our doctors, who were there in the hospital at that minute, were saying. They did not see any dead person."

But Britain says Russia's claims are a despicable theatrical stunt by Russia.

The US and its allies say the authenticity of information on the alleged attack is unassailable. In a statement, they said:

"Medical NGOs have found traces of chemical agents on the victims.

"Photographs and videos, numerous and mutually reinforcing, have been authenticated.

"The symptoms of more than 500 patients who presented on the same day of the attack in health care facilities undoubtedly corresponded to gas intoxication."

Hospital 'actors'
A separate report on the state-owned Russia 24 channel accuses the White Helmets, a civilian rescue group, of fabricating the evidence of a chemical attack, including actors to fake the footage of victims, and claims that Hassan Diab was coerced into taking part.

"It's all acting, they pour water on him and shake him," the reporter said.

The boy is filmed returning to the hospital with the Russian reporter, who finds "the props are still there".

"They used this hose to water me, and then they sat me on this couch," the boy said.

Hassan Diab's father tells Russia 24 that his son had no symptoms of poisoning and there was no chemical weapon.

"I found my family in the hospital. The militants gave dates, cookies and rice to all the participants and let everyone go home," he said.

"My child was perfectly fine."

Medical staff also tell the reporter that the attack was staged.

"No victims affected by toxic agents were admitted to our hospital on April 7," one medic said.

"Yes there were people who began to water themselves with a hose, but there were no appropriate symptoms."

Hospital staff blamed a conventional bombing for dust and smoke that caused breathing problems.

But a French government report presents a raft of evidence that "several lethal chemical attacks" took place, and that France assesses "with a high degree of confidence that they were carried out by the Syrian regime".

A US-based investigative website, The Intercept, also reveals that the Russia 24 interview with Hassan Diab and his father were almost certainly filmed at a Syrian army base in Damascus, "where Russian military advisers were present".

Fake footage
The Russia 24 report accuses Syrian rebels of deliberately staging and filming a fake chemical attack.

It includes footage of actors playing the part of victims, and an interview with a man, identified as a leader of the militant group Jaish al Islam, apparently admitting to the ruse.

"We put them on the ground, splashed water on them and made them look like chemical attack victims," the man says.

"We needed to make people look like they were really ill, not just pretending; it had to be really convincing. It took us about five to seven takes to get that done."

But The Intercept reveals that the Russian report has taken the pictures from a 2016 feature film shot in Damascus, that even Chinese media had reported as "a drama based on real events".

Similar allegations are made on Russia's state television channel Russia-1, where scenes from Syrian feature film Revolution Man — also of a staged chemical attack — were presented on the Vesti news program as proof that the White Helmets are involved in fakery.

British investigative website Bellingcat claims the vision was taken straight off the Facebook page for the film, and suggested either "extreme incompetence by the Vesti production team, or a purposeful attempt to deceive the audience".

"This report is yet another obvious example of images being misrepresented to attack the White Helmets by the Russian media and the supporters of the Syrian and Russian governments, and one that can be easily debunked with even rudimentary research," the Bellingcat article said.

Gas canister
A French government report prepared in the days after the attack found evidence of chlorine gas in the area where around 15 people died in the alleged attack.

The British investigative website Bellingcat reveals photographs and other evidence that purport to show the canister was dropped in the same location that gas victims were found.

It argues too that Syrian government helicopters — identified as having dropped similar chlorine cylinders in previous attacks — were seen heading towards Douma 30 minutes before the alleged attack.

But a report on state-run Russia Today television challenged reports in Western media that the canister contained toxic gas.

A man in a gas mask — apparently filmed soon after the alleged chemical attack — is seen standing next to the canister, even as it was "still fuming".

But Russia Today ran an interview with a US chemical expert who questions the authenticity of the video.

"If that were a nerve agent, whether he's got his face covered or not, it's going to go right through his skin," says James Tour from the Rice University in Texas.

"The only protection he could have is if his whole body were in a chemical-controlled suit. If it were chlorine gas that would protect him from some small leaking of the chlorine gas for a while."

Western reports
Western journalists have also written reports claiming the alleged chemical attack at Douma was a fabrication, and didn't happen.

Robert Fisk, The Independent's correspondent in the Middle East, was among a group of journalists allowed into Douma early last week, and says nobody he interviewed had seen any evidence of the attack.

Asked about the footage of alleged gas victims at the hospital, he says one doctor told him:

"Yes, the video was filmed here, it is genuine, but what you see are people suffering from hypoxia — not gas poisoning."

Another reporter for American News, Pearson Sharp, says he too found no evidence of an attack, and that residents told him it "was staged to help the rebels escape".

But Australian reporter Martin Chulov wrote in the Guardian that doctors had been coerced by the Syrian regime into silence.

"Medics who responded to the suspected gas attack in Douma have been subjected to "extreme intimidation" by Syrian officials who seized biological samples, forced them to abandon patients and demanded their silence," he wrote.

And a Swedish television reporter on the same media tour, Stefan Borg, says he managed to find the apartment block where the main gas attack allegedly happened, and spoke to a man who confirmed he'd lost his wife and other family in the chemical attack.

The journalist went down into the basement where many victims allegedly died, and said there was an "indeterminable smell of something when you come down here" and that "my throat hurts a bit".
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Re: Syrian Chemical Weapons and Western Retaliation?

Postby blehblah » Thu May 03, 2018 1:03 pm

This caught my eye.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/thenational/the- ... -1.4642812

Russian military spending fell by 20 per cent last year, even as European nations hiked their defence budgets for fear of Vladimir Putin's expansionist ambitions.

The cut — the first decrease in Russia's military spending since 1998 — drops the superpower to fourth place on the list of the world's biggest military spenders behind the United States, China and Saudi Arabia.

[...]

The United States, with $610 billion in defence expenditures, continues to lead the pack, spending more than the next seven countries combined. That figure is roughly the same as what the U.S. spent in 2016.


Also, I found this interesting: https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/putin-s ... -1.6045735

Now Putin is now considering supplying S-300 surface-to-air missiles to Assad, which would provide the Syrian president with the ability to engage Israeli aircraft attacking targets in Syria. This could bring about a dramatic change in the situation in Syria, and is liable to increase the prospect of a direct conflict between Russia and Israel. From Putin’s standpoint, this is a gamble whose outcome is hard to predict.

Undoubtedly a few of the old-timers at the Kremlin remember the effect that the introduction of Soviet surface-to-air missiles in Egypt in 1970 had on the War of Attrition, and then during the Yom Kippur War, when they managed to neutralize the Israel Air Force. They probably hope that now the supply of the S-300 missiles to Syria will have a similar effect.

But they may also recall how, nine years after the Yom Kippur War, in the First Lebanon War, the Israel Air Force destroyed Soviet missile batteries deployed in Lebanon without losing a single aircraft. That time Soviet technology had met its match, and it was a blow heard around the world.

Is it possible that the Israeli Air Force will know how to deal with the S-300 missile system if it is deployed in Syria? That no doubt is of concern to Putin and his generals. Such a scenario is liable to constitute a harsh blow to Russian weapons technology, hurting the Russians’ marketing efforts for this missile system to other countries, such as Iran, and even raising questions as to the continued Russian-Iranian alliance in Syria.
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