PROPHESY ALERT- WW3 watch ( SYria)/turmOIL 2 yr high/Mark of the BEAST( Rev 13)/TEMPLE MOUNT’s DOME OF ROCK COLLAPSING. 3rd Jewish temple on the way? and more shocking sign of the times






Power grid vulnerabilities are finally garnering some attention by government officials. An electrical grid joint drill simulation is being planned in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Thousands of utility workers, FBI agents, anti-terrorism experts, governmental agencies, and more than 150 private businesses are involved in the November power grid drill.

The downed power grid simulation will reportedly focus on both physical and cyber attacks. The antiquated electrical system in the United States has been one of the most neglected pieces of integral infrastructure.

The EMP Commission, created by Congress, released a report in 2008 calling for increased planning and testing, and a stockpiling of needed repair items.

The SHIELD Act, which is stalled in Congress, is the first serious piece of legislation in many years to attempt to address the vulnerabilities of the power grid in. As previously reported by Off The Grid News, a recent American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) report gave the power grid a “D+” when grading various pieces of infrastructure and public services in the United States.

The disaster drill is being described as a crisis practice unlike anything the real power grid has ever experienced. The GridEX II drill Nov. 13-14 will focus primarily on how governments will react if the electrical grid fails and, for instance, the food supply chain collapses.

American utility companies are responsible for running approximately 5,800 power plants and about 450,000 high-voltage transmission lines, controlled by various devices which have been put into place over the past decades. Some of the utility companies which oversee the power grid reportedly use “antique computer protocols” which are “probably” safe from cyber hackers,” The New York Times reported.

The Times said experts call the power grid the nation’s “glass jaw.” Even the military gets 99 percent of its power the same way everyday citizens get it – from commercially run companies.

Brand New Way To Generate Your Own Perfect Power…

“If an adversary lands a knockout blow, [experts] fear, it could black out vast areas of the continent for weeks; interrupt supplies of water, gasoline, diesel fuel and fresh food; shut down communications; and create disruptions of a scale that was only hinted at by Hurricane Sandy and the attacks of Sept. 11,” The Times said.

Former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission chairman Curt Hebert stated that if the nation fails at electricity, “we’re going to fail miserably” at everything else.

Hebert also noted that during prior power grid drills, the scenario assumed the system would be up and running again relatively quickly after an attack. This drill will assume it’s out much longer.

If the power grid fails, a lack of electricity and food delivery are only the first wave of troubles facing the American people. Police could face major problems with civil unrest. Of course, there also would not be any electric heating or cooling, which easily could lead to many deaths depending on the season.

A 2012 report by the National Academy of Science said terrorists could cripple the nation by damaging or destroying hard-to-replace components, some of which aren’t even made in the United States.

“Of particular concern are giant custom-built transformers that increase the voltage of electricity to levels suited for bulk transmission and then reduce voltage for distribution to customers,” The Times said in a summary of the report. “… Replacing them can take many months.”

Said Clark W. Gellings, a researcher at the Electric Power Research Institute, “I don’t think we pay quite enough attention to the technology fixes that would allow us to make the power system more resilient.” Off The Grid New


America’s expected “limited” strikes in Syria could push the country into an even more dangerous and unpredictable downward spiral or even an international crisis, but doing nothing may be unconscionable and has consequences of its own.  Iran says a U.S. strike in Syria will result in disaster in the region.   Syria’s foreign minister promised the Syrian military would defend against an attack in ways that will “surprise” the world. Israel said it is putting its missile defenses, including the Iron Dome and Arrow systems, on their highest state of alert. Hezbollah is fighting hand in glove with the Syrian regime. The group has tens of thousands of rockets just across Israel’s northern border. It could fire them if it fears it’s losing its ally. In Syria, rebels hope foreign military intervention will be just enough to make the regime wobble. They say they’ll be ready with their own offensive to push the regime over the rest of the way. So what happens in Syria, and around the Middle East in the hours and days after a military strike? A lot depends on how far the United States goes to destabilize President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

The ‘do nothing’ option

At this point, doing nothing doesn’t sound likely.

If the United States doesn’t respond, as Secretary of State John Kerry suggested Monday, where is the world’s humanity and morality?

Imagine living in the Damascus suburbs now. How would Americans feel if they had just been attacked by gas-filled bombs that choked to death hundreds, including many children, in their beds, and a stronger nation with the power to punish those responsible said, “Sorry, it’s not my problem, but we do feel bad for you”?

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “We remember the ancient principle of the sages, ‘If we are not for ourselves, who is for us?’”

The ‘do little’ option
The United States could launch a symbolic strike, destroying a few arms depots and runways, but that would not significantly change the balance of power in the Syrian war.

Such a strike from the U.S. and a few partner nations would very likely be coupled with strident warnings from American officials, most likely President Barack Obama personally, saying that if chemical weapons were ever used again, there would be greater punishment next time. But can threats after a weak action be taken seriously?

Syrian rebels, and anyone else who opposes President Assad, would be disappointed and demoralized. They would say the United States is afraid of Syria and wants to keep Assad in power. They would say Assad used chemical weapons and only got a slap on the wrist.

They would ask, “How much more suffering do we have to endure before someone helps us?” They would feel truly isolated from the world. Radical groups would have a stronger case to make to Syrians that only al-Qaeda and extremist Islam can protect them.

President Assad could only conclude that he got away with using weapons of mass destruction.

The war would continue. More Syrians would die.  Al-Qaeda could grow stronger. And Bashar al-Assad would remain in power.

The do a ‘little more’ option
Rebels would certainly be encouraged by strong U.S. military strikes, especially if they carry on through two to three days. The strikes could help the rebels advance.

But they could also create a false optimism, a belief that the regime is collapsing when in fact it is not. The rebels could throw themselves into battle, hoping their time to finish off Assad had arrived, only to discover that the regime is much stronger than they anticipated, and suffer enormous losses in the days and weeks after an attack.

I’m reminded of Iraqis in 1991. The United States encouraged Iraqis to rise up after Saddam Hussein’s army was driven out of Kuwait. Washington assumed Saddam was weak after losing the 1991 Gulf War. Iraqis rose up, but Saddam’s troops killed thousands – Iraqis say tens of thousands — in a counter-offensive.

The do ‘a lot’ option
If the United States — most likely with other countries including Turkey, France and Britain — attacks military targets in Syria in a major way, it could knock the weakened Syrian regime off its last legs. The regime now is heavily dependent on Hezbollah and Iran to keep the war going. Most of the government’s attacks are launched from a distance, by missiles and helicopters. The army rarely sends in troops for face-to-face combat. Resupply is a problem. So is the risk of defection.

If the Syrian regime starts to collapse, the fighting could get very intense. Assad, in desperation, could use more chemical weapons.  The regime could decide to fight to its last breath. We could enter a phase of battles more horrific than any yet seen in the Syrian war.

Syria could break into regions, some controlled by Alawites loyal to the military and the Assad family, others controlled by Kurds, and still more run by Sunni rebel factions, including the al-Qaeda linked “Islamic State,” which is rapidly replacing the Nusra Front as the most powerful radical group in Syria.

There could be ethnic and sectarian fighting. In this scenario, the regime would break apart as heavy fighting rages. The United States would have to hope that its ally in Syria, the Free Syrian Army, would prevail amid the chaos.

Internationally, Iran seems unlikely to risk a confrontation, but Hezbollah, fearing the loss of its regional ally, could decide to play for public support in the Arab world by attacking Israel. Israel would respond. Lebanon would suffer major losses.  If Syria collapses completely, the United States and the world would have to consider who, and what, fills the vacuum.  NBC World News


Isaiah 43:5-6 – “Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, `Give them up!’ and to the south, `Do not hold them back.’ Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth…

Israeli authorities have completed what they say is the final large airlift of Ethiopian immigrants, ending decades of efforts to bring the remnants of an ancient community to the Jewish state. Tali Aronsky, spokeswoman for the semi-official Jewish Agency, says 450 people arrived Wednesday. They are Falash Mura, a community whose ancestors converted from Judaism to Christianity under duress about 100 years ago, but managed to keep some Jewish customs. Aronsky said the airlift caps a three-year operation that brought in 7,000 Falash Mura. Thousands of Ethiopian Jews live in Israel. Many arrived in secret airlifts in 1984 and 1990. Small numbers of Falash Mura remain behind in Ethiopia. Dozens of their relatives held a protest at the prime minister’s office in Jerusalem Wednesday to demand Israel bring them over. Fox News


As the official start date for Obamacare draws ever closer, there is more evidence that the law simply won’t perform as advertised and, in fact, will cause even greater harm to American society than without the “healthcare reform” it was supposedly crafted to deliver.

Particularly hard hit will be businesses that are going to be required to provide certain levels of health insurance coverage to their employees. The result is going to be a) higher costs to the businesses’ customers; and b) a net loss in employment, especially full-time employment.

A new employer survey has found that a plurality of mid-sized and large businesses – 40 percent of 420 companies surveyed – said they are planning changes to the designs of their insurance plans next year and other changes to reduce employee related costs as a new excise tax imposed by Obamacare approaches with pricier plans.

Also, according to Towers Watson, the firm conducting the survey, 60 percent of companies look at private health insurance exchanges as one way of controlling their healthcare and administrative costs by dumping their employees into the state-run health insurance pools called for under the law – as predicted a couple of years ago.

No big changes soon, but they’re coming

While most of the companies don’t yet have near-term plans to make the big dump, clearly, they are coming. The companies who are looking to dump, by the way, collectively employ 8.7 million workers.

More from CNBC:

The study also found those same companies are increasingly unlikely to offer their employer-sponsored plan for retirees older than age 65 as Obamacare state insurance exchanges go into effect, and as Medicare remains available to those people.

The number of employers either very or somewhat likely to discontinue such plans for those retirees grows from 25 percent in 2014 to 44 percent in 2015, according to Towers Watson, the global professional services company….

That, too, has been foretold.

Still, the vast majority of the companies – 82 percent – believe it is “important” to offer existing workers subsidized health care, as part of their “employee value proposition” for 2014, the study found.

Also, 98 percent of the employers said they don’t have definite plans to discontinue company health insurance plans next year or in 2015 and dump their workers into state exchanges. But how many of those companies will eventually change direction and dump sooner will depend in large part on several factors: how well the exchanges work (no one even knows yet how they will work); overall cost of coverage (will it stay the same, go up or, more likely, increase?); and any political changes to the law.

“Most companies very much still see health-care benefits as a core offering,” Ron Fontanetta, a senior health-care consultant at Towers Watson, told CNBC. “It’s a very visible benefit, and it garners a lot of attention among executives, in part because it’s very visible to employees and also because it costs a lot.”

Nevertheless, company-sponsored healthcare changes are afoot, and they are a) directly related to Obamacare; and b) anything but positive.

New tax increases looming

For instance, the Towers Watson study was released on the same day it was reported that UPS told its white-collar employees the company would no longer cover 15,000 working spouses, beginning next year, because of increased medical costs and “costs associated with the Affordable Care Act.”

It’s not that “greedy American corporations” want to discontinue health insurance coverage. CEOs see such coverage as a necessary perk that attracts a higher quality employee. But the reality is that Obamacare is going to boost costs, so firms are being forced to rethink the benefit.

Companies “are increasingly asking questions about ‘where are we taking our future strategy? How does the challenge of offering health care reconcile with our broader financial goals as an organization?’” said Fontanetta. “They want to understand, increasingly, what are the different strategic pathways [the companies] might take,” Fontanetta said.
The looming excise tax, by the way, becomes effective in 2018 – one of the law’s many penalties, taxes, fees and punishments. Natural News



WAR DRUMS: Iran is threatening to launch a massive missile strike against Israel if the United States attacks Syria for using chemical weapons against its own people, which could touch off a full-blown war in the region. “The day of reckoning is near,” according to Hossein Shariatmadari, the chief editor of Keyhan newspaper, an outlet controlled by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.  An Op-Ed penned by Shariatmadari Tuesday warned that the impending confrontation between the West and Syria would “provide the long-awaited opportunity for revenge against Israel and America.”
The editor recalled the U.S.-led attack on Baghdad on March 20, 2003, and President George W. Bush’s boast to reporters seven days later that the “Iraq war is over.” But when the last U.S. soldiers were leaving Iraq in December 2011, nearly 4,500 Americans had been killed and the war had cost America trillions of dollars. Shariatmadari said that Washington, instead of open war against Syria, has been waging a proxy war against the Assad regime with the help of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and Egypt. He said now it is ready to directly confront Syria militarily, one of the members of the Resistance Front along with Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. However, despite Syrian rebels receiving financial and military support from those Middle East countries, not only has the Assad regime not been overthrown but it has opened a “new chapter for the Resistance where it formed the forces of ‘defense of Homeland,’ a force similar to the Basij militias (in Iran).”
Iran has long drawn a red line around the Assad regime. And Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon, Israel’s neighbor, are armed with thousands of missiles. The three members of the Resistance Front have a joint war room. “Because of the failure of the intended proxy war, America and some Arab and European countries are preparing to attack Syria on the false claims that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons,” the editor said. “However, America can certainly start the war but it won’t be the one to end it.”
Shariatmadari said that Israel is the “Achilles’ heel of America and its European allies and without a doubt with the start of an attack on Syria, thousands of missiles will rain down all over the occupied lands (Israel), which will destroy its critical facilities as it was obvious that its missile defense system (the Iron Dome) could not prevent missiles reaching Tel Aviv.” He also warned Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey and others who support attacking Syria that they themselves will come under attack from Syria. “Muslims should welcome the news of an attack on Syria as it will provide the long-awaited opportunity for revenge, which should destroy the enemies of Islam,” Shariatmadari concluded.
Seyed Reza Taghavai, the head of Iran’s Policy Council of Friday Prayers, hinted that Khamenei is guiding the events in Syria, Lebanon and Gaza despite Iran publicly saying that it has nothing to do with them, Fars News Agency reported Monday. “People stand tall because of (Khamenei’s) guidance and in Syria where it has resisted against the unbelievers,” he said. Meanwhile, the Islamic regime’s reporting agency published images of commanders of the Zolfaghar Battalion fighting in Syria. It said that the Zolfaghar and Abolfazle Abass battalions are mostly made up of Iraqi and Lebanese Shiites in fighting the Syrian rebels.continue


When President Barack Obama takes to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial today for his scheduled 2:45 pm address to the thousands of people who will mass there for the 50th anniversary celebration of the March on Washington, it won’t be the first time he’s stood in the shadow of Martin Luther King.
Four years ago Obama went to Oslo, Norway to accept the Nobel Peace Prize, an honor Kingreceived 45 years earlier. King was leading a campaign of nonviolent resistance to racial injustice in this country when was given the world’s most prestigious peace prize. Obama, who had won election as this nation’s first black president just 13 months earlier, got his prize ”for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples” even as the U.S. was in the midst of two wars.
“When you are talking about Dr. King’s speech at the March on Washington, you’re talking about one of the maybe five greatest speeches in American history,” Obama said during a recent interview on the Tom Joyner Morning Show. “And the words that he spoke at that particular moment, with so much at stake, and the way in which he captured the hopes and dreams of an entire generation, I think, is unmatched.”
But that doesn’t mean Obama will be unmindful of his linkage to King when he stands before the statue of the Great Emancipator to give an address that will be heard around the world. This was clearly on the president’s mind Tuesday night. After he made some formal remarks during a White House reception for a broad cross section of civil rights leaders, entertainers, politicians and social activists, I heard Obama quip to someone standing nearby: “Man, can you believe they have me speaking tomorrow, 50 years to the day of the greatest speech ever given. That’s like following Jesus.”
Religion aside, Obama was as conscious of King’s footprint when he accepted his Nobel Prize, as he most certainly will be when he speaks on the anniversary of the “I Have a Dream” speech King gave the year before he went to Oslo to gather his Nobel Prize.
While King, in Nobel Prize address, said that ”violence never brings permanent peace,” Obama – responding to King’s words in his Nobel speech – said ”I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people.”
That’s the difference between the visionary and the political leader. It showed up in Oslo in the words these two great men spoke – and it will, no doubt, shape history’s judgment of the power and influence of what they each said from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. USA Today


From cartoon characters to celebrities faces and misspelled sayings, there are some strange tattoos out there. But one man may have made it to the top of the list. Artist Anthony Antonellis barely winced as a Brooklyn body modification specialist cut open the skin between his thumb and index finger with a 0.75 inch blade and inserted a small RFID chip. The RFID chip is the size of a grain of sand and was encased inside of a glass capsule before being placed under Antonellis’ flesh. ”I Eternal Sunshine‘d that entire hour of my life,” Antonellis told Animal New York who filmed the procedure. So why did Antonellis go through 30 minutes of pain to have a chip inserted in his hand that is completely invisible from the outside? The chip stores 1KB of data and contains information for a GIF that is readable by cell phones. ”Think of it as a changeable, digital net art tattoo vs. fixed information,” Antonellis said. The GIF is of pixelated rainbow colors and appears on screen when a compatible smartphone is held two centimeters from the chip. Fox News


If a Chicago alderman has his way, the city could someday see drones buzzing through the skies as part of an effort to keep students safe as they walk to school.
“We could use the help.!” Ald. George Cardenas (12th) tweeted, along with an article from The Telegraph outlining ways the remote-controlled, unmanned aerial vehicles — commonly known as drones — have been used outside of military actions.  “Why not use drones in safe passage.??”
During a follow-up phone interview, Cardenas said “there is no doubt technology is migrating from military use. … It’s going to take time to find those uses in an urban environment. It is, however, the future and I think people will want to take that leap. I think eventually we’re going to have to look at this technology.”
But Matt Waite, a journalism professor at the University of Nebraska, believes using drones to patrol the city’s streets isn’t a good idea. Waite is involved in an effort that uses drones in news gathering and documents the experiments by the school’s Drone Journalism Lab on a blog.
“There’s still a big safety issue, especially with the small ones,” he said. “They have a tendency to crash from time to time. So now you have something with spinning blades over the top of children that could fall out of the sky. That would seem unwise.”
Waite also said the tactic would face major regulatory hurdles. Public agencies wishing to use a drone must obtain what’s known as a Certificate of Authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration, which can take years, he said.
And there are legal questions.
“What happens if a camera catches kids committing crimes? Is that admissible in court? Do police have to get a warrant to watch these kids? Can you suspend a kid for acting a fool on their walk?” he asked.
Add to that concern about restricted airspace within the city and its two major airports, and Waite said that’s “a tall, tall order to overcome.”
Still, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International says drones can be a boon to law enforcement agencies by keeping officers out of dangerous situations, helping with search and rescue missions, responding to natural disasters and saving on the bottom line. The group claims drones can operate for as little as $25 to $75 per hour, which is far less than the $400-per-hour cost of using a manned helicopter.
“The technology could certainly be used to help keep children safe. Importantly, however, it is up to local leaders to determine whether this is an appropriate use in their community,” said AUVSI spokeswoman Melanie Hinton.
Still, the suggestion to use drones from Cardenas drew immediate backlash on social media.
“Did 12th Ward Alderman @georgeacardenas just advocate that Military Drones be used on CPS safe passage routes?” tweeted Martin Ritter, a member of the Local School Council at Whitney Young High School and a Chicago Teachers Union organizer. Ritter later tweeted, “Flying tanks are not the answer.”
Melissa Lindberg said over Twitter that Cardenas “just proved he’s unsuitable to hold elected office: drones in the city? Gee, what could possibly go wrong?” And another Twitter user said, “Interesting how there’s willingness to spend on anything BUT schools.”
But Cardenas said critics weren’t considering the non-military, public safety use of the devices.
And he admitted he might’ve been too quick firing off his Tuesday morning tweet.
“You know me, sometimes my brain gets ahead of myself. I read things and it intrigues me on the possibilities,” he said. “It’s a technology with a lot of potential and it could be really interesting in years to come. So yeah, I’m going to throw it out there.” DNAinfo Chicago


BREAKING NEWS: Ahead of a US strike against Syria, the IDF Wednesday installed two Iron Dome missile interceptors in the northern “Valleys” region and Safed in addition to Haifa. Another Iron Dome battery was posted in the heavily populated central district.  Arrow, Patriot anti-missile missiles, as well as Iron Domes, have been deployed more widely across Israel than ever before. DEBKAfile’s military sources report that Israel’s Arrow and Patriot interceptors are linked to the US missile shield with which their operation is synchronized. DEBKA

Western attack to punish Syria likely to begin with barrage of more than 100 missiles in 48 hour blitz

A British and American attack to punish Syria for using chemical weapons will see the two allies launch a barrage of more than 100 missiles in a blitz lasting up to 48 hours, according to military insiders and diplomatic sources.

A Royal Navy Trafalgar class submarine will join forces with American warships in the Mediterranean to fire Tomahawk cruise missiles in an attack that is likely to begin within days.

The missiles would be unleashed to destroy Mr Assad’s command and control facilities, weapons delivery centres, intelligence bases and militia training camps.

Military commanders sealed agreement on the scope of attacks with regional allies and the Syrian opposition, officials at a two-day summit in Amman said last night.

The two day meeting in Jordan saw Gen Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the US joint chiefs, and Gen Sir Nick Houghton, the head of Britain’s Armed Forces, set out detailed war plans to service chiefs from 10 countries.

A Jordanian official said: “There was consensus that the international community must take action in Syria and that missile strikes by naval or air forces would be the best response.”continue

What did this man put in his hand?

From cartoon characters to celebrities faces and misspelled sayings, there are some strange tattoos out there. But one man may have made it to the top of the list.

Artist Anthony Antonellis barely winced as a Brooklyn body modification specialist cut open the skin between his thumb and index finger with a 0.75 inch blade and inserted a small RFID chip.

The RFID chip is the size of a grain of sand and was encased inside of a glass capsule before being placed under Antonellis’ flesh.

“I Eternal Sunshine‘d that entire hour of my life,” Antonellis told Animal New York who filmed the procedure.

So why did Antonellis go through 30 minutes of pain to have a chip inserted in his hand that is completely invisible from the outside?

The chip stores 1KB of data and contains information for a GIF that is readable by cell phones



Oldest Map Of The World Carved Onto Ostrich Eggs Discovered



Evangelista Anita Fuentes









Black Death returns: 1 dead in Kyrgyzstan, 3 ill, 131 quarantined – fear rampant

August 28, 2013 – KYRGYZSTAN – Health officials fear an outbreak of bubonic plague in central Asia after a teenage boy died from the disease and three more were admitted to hospital in Kyrgyzstan. Temirbek Isakunov, a 15-year-old from a mountain village near the border with Kazakhstan, reportedly died from the disease last week after eating an infected barbecued marmot. Kyrgyzstan’s emergency ministry said a young woman and two children from a different village who came into contact with Isakunov were hospitalized on Tuesday with the high fever and swelling around the neck and armpits characteristic of bubonic plague, local news outlets reported. A total of 131 people, including 33 medical personnel, have been quarantined, although none of them have yet exhibited symptoms of the disease, the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda in Kyrgyzstan reported. The health ministry continues to find and quarantine people who came into contact with the teenager, according to its director. Kazakhstan has stepped up its border control with Kyrgyzstan and is operating quarantine points in light of the possible outbreak, the news agency Tengrinews reported. The Kazakh health ministry is searching out people who might have come into contact with the dead teenager, and is also determining where animal carriers of the disease might be moving between the two countries, according to a ministry official. The bacteria that cause bubonic plague are typically transmitted from rodents to humans via flea bites but can also be contracted through direct contact with infected tissue. Some local authorities in Russia have also grown wary over the incident, since citizens of Kyrgyzstan do not need a visa to enter the country and, according to the newspaper Izvestiya, more than 500,000 Kyrgyz work in Russia. According to TV news report in Yekaterinburg, Russia’s fourth largest city, checkpoints in the airport there are inspecting all those arriving from countries with a high bubonic plague risk. A Russian public health official said cases of bubonic plague were registered in Kazakhstan every year, and the disease existed naturally in parts of Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Russia, Izvestiya reported. –Guardian

Showdown looms: Military strikes on Syria likely days away, warns US officials

August 28, 2013 – SYRIA – The U.S. could hit Syria with three days of missile strikes, perhaps beginning Thursday, in an attack meant more to send a message to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad than to topple him or cripple his military, senior U.S. officials told NBC News on Tuesday. The State Department fed the growing drumbeat around the world for a military response to Syria’s suspected use of chemical weapons against rebels Aug. 21 near Damascus, saying that while the U.S. intelligence community would release a formal assessment within the week, it was already “crystal clear” that Assad’s government was responsible. Vice President Joe Biden went even further, bluntly telling an American Legion audience in Houston: “Chemical weapons have been used.” Vice President Joe Biden addresses the use of chemical weapons in Syria and the president’s response in a speech to the American Legion. “No one doubts that innocent men, women and children have been the victims of chemical weapons attacks in Syria, and there’s no doubt who’s responsible for this heinous use of chemical weapons in Syria: the Syrian regime,” Biden said. White House press secretary Jay Carney repeated Tuesday that the White House isn’t considering the deliberate overthrow of Assad. “The options that we are considering are not about regime change,” said during a daily briefing with reporters.
 “They are about responding to the clear violation of an international standard that prohibits the use of chemical weapons.” But Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., an influential voice on military matters, pressed the administration to go further, calling for the U.S. and its allies to provide weapons to “the resistance on the ground. The important part of this whole situation is, is this just going to be just a retaliatory strike that has no lasting impact or something that changes the momentum on the ground in Syria?” McCain told reporters in Mesa, Ariz., after an event on immigration reform. Senior officials told NBC News that Defense Department planning had advanced to the point that three days of strikes were anticipated, after which strategists could run an assessment and target what was missed in further rounds. Many Americans asked about the slaughter in Syria are torn as to how the U.S. should get involved. NBC’s Kevin Tibbles reports. U.S. missile strikes would almost certainly be launched from Navy destroyers or submarines in the Mediterranean Sea. The U.S. in recent days has moved destroyers closer to Syria, which sits on the sea’s eastern edge, but that was mostly a symbolic move. U.S. Tomahawk missiles are so precise that they can hit not just buildings but also specific windows, and they could hit Syrian targets from far farther west in the Mediterranean. Navy officials said four destroyers are lined up ready to strike: the USS Barry, the USS Mahan, the USS Ramage and the USS Gravely. Tuesday, a fifth guided-missile destroyer, the USS Stout, also entered the Mediterranean, through the Straights of Gibraltar, but officials said it wouldn’t take part in any cruise missile attack. “The four destroyers now in place have more than enough cruise missiles,” one official said. –NBC

SAS hunting Syrian missiles as Allies prepare for bombing blitz

Boots on the Ground: Elite British Special Forces are already on the ground inside Syria searching for mobile scub missiles that could be launched against Allies and Israel as reprisals when coalition forces decide to launch air strikes.
August 28, 2013 – SYRIA – British Special Forces were last night hunting Syrian missiles in readiness for Allied strikes which could start as early as tomorrow night. Cruise missile attacks and RAF raids are expected in response to the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons. A military source said: “It is vital they find every missile site that could threaten British ships or RAF jets and they will probably be taken out by missiles fired from offshore. The risk of capture to these Special Forces units is off the scale and nobody can be trusted in Syria.” The British hunt for missiles and chemical weapons – which includes the SAS, Special Boat Service, Special Reconnaissance Regiment and MI6 spies – is one of the most hazardous in modern times as they are up against Assad’s forces as well as some rebel elements. At the top of the hit list are the President’s sophisticated long-range mobile missile batteries – some of which could be used against our jets. Special Forces troops will use laser and satellite technology to pinpoint the exact location of the key sites so they can be hit in a way that minimizes the risk to civilians.
 It comes after the Assad regime’s chemical weapons attack last week, which killed up to 1,300 civilians, including children. Prime Minister David Cameron said: “This regime has huge stocks of chemical weapons. We know they have used them on at least 10 occasions prior to this last widescale use. They have both the motive and the opportunity.” Spies have already found scores of major military installations and ammo dumps in the war-stricken country. Now the British military is waiting for the political green light as it prepares to act. A huge force of Royal Navy warships and RAF jets could be called into action if MPs vote for air and sea strikes. But it is likely any attack would involve a small number of precision missile strikes, launched from outside Syria. The Navy will spearhead any UK operation against Assad, followed by the RAF, both working with US and French forces, but regular troops will not be sent in. It is thought nuclear submarine HMS Tireless has been repositioned in the Mediterranean in readiness to launch Tomahawk cruise missiles against Assad’s military. –Mirror

Israel says it won’t stay on sidelines if Syria attacks: 100 times stronger militarily since Gulf War

A woman shows a child how to put on a gas mask at a distribution center in Tel Aviv. Israelis are bracing for an attack after Syria vowed to strike Israel if Syria is struck by the United States.  (Uriel Sinai / Getty Images / August 26, 2013)
August 28, 2013 – JERUSALEM — During the 1991 Persian Gulf War, Israel endured dozens of Scud missiles launched by Saddam Hussein’s forces, but refrained from retaliating because of U.S. concern that Israeli involvement would fracture the international coalition it had built against Iraq. As the United States prepares for a possible military attack against the Syrian government over its alleged use of chemical weapons, Israeli leaders are making it clear that they have no intention of standing down this time if attacked. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday issued the starkest warning to date in response to recent saber-rattling by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government, which has said it might respond to a U.S. strike by attacking Israel. ‘We are not part of the civil war in Syria, but if we identify any attempt whatsoever to harm us, we will respond with great force,” Netanyahu said after huddling for a second consecutive day with key Cabinet members to discuss the possible ramifications of a U.S. strike against Syria. Speaking at a memorial service for fallen soldiers, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Benny Gantz said, “Those seeking to strike us will find us sharper and fiercer than ever. Our enemies must know we are determined to take any action needed to defend our citizens.” Their comments followed statements this week by Syrian officials that they would hold Israel responsible for any U.S. strike. On Monday, Khalaf Muftah, a senior official in the ruling Baath Party, accused Israel of being “behind the [Western] aggression” and warned that Israel “will therefore come under fire.” Syrian officials often seek to focus blame on Israel as a way of rallying support among the Syrian people.
Israel’s vow to strike back is a far cry from 1991, when Iraqi Scuds pounded Tel Aviv, Haifa and other Israeli cities. Two Israelis were killed in direct hits and scores were wounded. Then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, a military hawk from the conservative Likud Party, bowed to pressure from President George H.W. Bush to refrain from responding to Iraq’s attempts to draw Israel into the fighting. The U.S. feared that Arab nations that had joined the U.S.-led coalition would balk at participating in a military action against Iraq alongside Israel. “It was a very hard decision for us,” said Zalman Shoval, who served as Israel’s U.S. ambassador during the war. “But Iraq was a different proposition altogether from Syria. This time there’s no doubt Israel will respond.” He said Israel acquiesced in 1991 partly as a goodwill gesture to the Bush administration and partly because it was unclear whether Israel would be able to retaliate effectively without U.S. cooperation. “Today Israel is a hundred times stronger militarily than it was during the Gulf War,” said Shoval, who now works as an international envoy for Netanyahu’s government. “And with American leadership in the Middle East much weaker now than it was at that time, Israel does not have to give in to pressure from Washington to not respond if Israel is directly attacked.” Israel is by far the Middle East’s strongest military power, reportedly with a nuclear weapons arsenal that it has never publicly acknowledged. So far the Obama administration does not appear to be pressuring Israel to refrain from responding if it is directly attacked, Shoval said. U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies have been sharing information about the Syrian unrest, including the apparent use of chemical weapons. A report Saturday in Germany’s Focus magazine said Israel’s famed 8200 intelligence unit had intercepted communications among Syrian officials discussing last week’s alleged chemical attacks. It said the wiretap helped U.S. officials conclude that Assad’s regime was responsible. –LA Times
Israel calls up reservists: Ahead of the US strike on Syria, the Israeli security cabinet in special session Wednesday, Aug. 28, ordered the partial mobilization of select, qualitative IDF reserve forces: Rocket, Air Force, missile interception, Home Defense command and intelligence units. Anti-missile Arrow, Patriot and Iron Dome systems were spread out more widely than ever before across the country. U.S. and Syria wound up last military preparations for the US strike. Barring last-minute hold-ups, debkafile’s military sources report the American operation is scheduled to start Friday night, early Saturday Aug. 30-31. In the past 24 hours, the US Air Force finished a major buildup at the big US Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar. B-1B bombers and F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets were brought over from other US Mid East air facilities on the Omani island of Masirah and Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. On the opposite side, the Syrian army Tuesday started scattering personnel, weapons and air assets to safe places to reduce their exposure to damage and losses from US assaults. Our military sources report that personnel, tanks and artillery of the Syrian Army’s 4th and Republican Guard Divisions, which are held responsible for the Aug. 21 chemical attack on civilians, were being moved into fortified shelters built last year against potential foreign military intervention. –Debka

Syria warns Israel will pay dearly if their country is attacked by U.S.

August 28, 2013 – ISRAEL – A senior Syrian official on Monday issued a first direct warning that if attacked, his country would retaliate against Israel. Khalaf Muftah, a senior Baath Party official who used to serve as Syria’s assistant information minister, said in a radio interview that Damascus would consider Israel “behind the [Western] aggression and [it] will therefore come under fire.” We have strategic weapons and we’re capable of responding,” he said. “Normally the strategic weapons are aimed at Israel.” Muftah concluded with a warning that “If the US or Israel make the mistake of taking advantage of the chemical issue… the region will go up in flames… that will affect security not only in the region but across the world.” His words were echoed by Iranian officials, who on Monday shrugged off the threat of a US attack on its close ally Syria, but said that if such a strike were to take place, Israel would suffer. “[The Americans] are incapable of starting a new war in the region, because of their lacking economic capabilities and their lack of morale,” said Mohammad Reza Naqdi, the commander of the Republican Guards’ elite Basij force. “No military attack will be waged against Syria,” said Hossein Sheikholeslam, a member of Iran’s Islamic Consultative Assembly. “Yet, if such an incident takes place, which is impossible, the Zionist regime will be the first victim of a military attack on Syria.”
Israeli military officials have indicated they believe it unlikely that Syria would target Israel. US or others intervened, but Israel has reportedly been taking security precautions just in case. Our hand is always on the pulse,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday. “Our finger is a responsible one and if needed, is on the trigger. We will always know how to protect our citizens and our country against those who come to injure us or try to attack us.” The Syrian and Iranian statements Monday came as Britain reportedly pushed for US action on Syria in the wake of a horrific alleged chemical weapons attack on civilians outside Damascus. According to a report from the Times of London, British Prime Minister David Cameron wants a strike in the coming days while outrage over the alleged attack is still fresh. British Foreign Minister William Hague said in an interview with the BBC on Monday that action could be taken even without the full support of the UN Security Council. Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Western nations calling for military action against Syria have no proof the Syrian government is behind the alleged chemical weapons attack. France, Britain, Israel and some US congressmen have said military action against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime should be an option if it has used such weapons. A UN team is on the ground investigating the August 21 attack that left hundreds dead. Lavrov said in a news conference that the countries calling for action have assumed the role of “both investigators and the UN Security Council” in probing the incident. –Times of Israel

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