Breaking News: Russian troops land in Syria

Russian naval base in Tartus, SyriaBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS| intelNews.org |
The Russian service of the BBC has confirmed that a contingent of Russian “antiterrorist special forces” have landed in Syria. The news first appeared on Monday on the websites of several Russian news agencies, including Interfax and RIA Novosti. The latter claimed that the Russian troops, who were said to be Marines, arrived in the Syrian port of Tartus onboard the tanker Iman, which is part of Russia’s Black Sea fleet. According to the report, the tanker is strictly tasked with performing “logistical tasks [including] the replenishment of fuel and food [and] providing maritime anti-piracy security in the Gulf of Aden”. According to a statement from the Russian Black Sea Command, the special forces had landed in Syria in order to “demonstrate the Russian presence in the turbulent region and possibly evacuate Russian citizens”. Shortly after the initial reports of the troops’ landing in Tartus, ABC News spoke to an anonymous source at the United Nations Security Council, who described the news as “a bomb” that was “certain to have serious repercussions” on the situation in Syria. Soon afterwards, however, an unnamed source in the Syrian Ministry of National Defense told the SANA news agency in Damascus that the reports of Russian troops landing in Syria were “completely devoid of truth” and said the presence of the Russian tanker was connected with an anti-piracy mission. The Russian Ministry of Defense also told reporters that the Iman is not a warship and that its crew is composed entirely of civilian personnel. But a separate report on the Russian-language service of the BBC claims that, although the vessel is indeed hydrographic —designed to collect undersea topographic data— it contains sophisticated dual-use hardware that can easily be used for intelligence collection. The BBC report repeats earlier claims by the Interfax news agency that the Russian ship arrived in Tartus with a large contingent of marine brigade and airborne assault battalion members. It also quotes sources from the Syrian opposition, which allege that Russian troops were indeed seen disembarking in Taurus. Read more of this post

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News you may have missed #424 (suspicious deaths edition II)

News you may have missed #0039

  • Russians suspect sabotage behind ICBM test failure. The FSB is investigating the reasons behind the test failure earlier this month of a Russian Navy Bulava-30 (SS-NX-30) sea-based intercontinental ballistic missile, which disintegrated 28 seconds after launch. The Russian Navy developed the ICBM specifically to avoid future US ballistic missile defenses.
  • CIA kept bin Laden son’s death secret for months. US officials think that Saad bin Laden was killed in a Predator drone strike earlier this year in Pakistan, but CIA has tried to keep the news secret, allegedly in an attempt to confuse al-Qaeda. You may recall that some time ago intelNews reported that some in US intelligence believed Saad had been given government protection in Iran.
  • US DNI sees signs of North Korean succession. The Open Source Center of the US Directorate of National Intelligence adds its voice to widespread speculation that Kim Jong il may be preparing to hand power to his third son, Kim Jong Un.

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Russian naval bases in the Mediterranean “a matter of time”

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Last October, when Libyan head of state Muammar al-Gaddafi visited Moscow, observers speculated that the possibility of a Russian naval base in Libya would be high among the subjects for discussion. Now the ITAR-TASS news agency has quoted an “unidentified” Russian military official as saying that the establishment of Russian naval bases in Libya, Syria, and possibly Yemen, is a matter of time. The official suggested that “[t]he political decision [to lease the bases] has been taken” and “this will be done without question”. Responding to a request for comment by The Moscow Times, Deputy Chief of the Russian General Staff, Colonel General Anatoly Nogovitsyn, simply confirmed that Moscow is conducting negotiations “with foreign governments”. Read more of this post