Is Assad planning KAMIKAZE strikes on the West? Loyalist say Aug 29, 2013 13:08:47 GMT
Post by Focus on Aug 29, 2013 13:08:47 GMT
President Assad is considering using kamikaze pilots against Western forces, a Syrian army officer operating air defences near Damascus has claimed.
In the event of an attack by the U.S. and Britain, the Syrian army had 8,000 'suicide martyrs' who would give their lives to bring down warplanes if necessary, the unnamed officer said.
He said: 'If (US and British) warplanes raid our skies they will face hell fire.
'If we are unable to shoot down their warplanes with artillery, we have military pilots who are ready to attack these foreign warplanes by their own warplanes and blow them up in the air.'
The officer, whose claims could not be verified, spoke out as President Assad said today that Syria would 'defend itself in the face of any aggression' - fanning fears across the region of all-out war.
Panic stations : An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man walks with his children after collecting gas masks at a distribution point in Israel as fears grow that strikes by the U.S. and Britain on Syria could trigger all-out war
Piled high : Thousands of Israelis have been queuing up for gas masks or ordered them by phone, spurred on by fears that any Western military response could ensnare their own country in war
Braced for war : The Israeli postal service, which oversees gas mask distribution, said demand has tripled in recent days, meaning about five million Israelis, roughly 60 per cent of the population, now have them
Getting in line : Israelis queue to collect gas masks at a centre in the Mediterranean coastal city of Haifa
The officer told The Guardian that 13 pilots had signed a pledge this week saying they would form 'a crew of suicide martyrs to foil the U.S. warplanes'.
He claimed: 'We have more than 8,000 suicide martyrs within the Syrian army, ready to carry out martyrdom operations at any moment to stop the Americans and the British.
'I myself am ready to blow myself up against U.S. aircraft carriers to stop them attacking Syria and its people.'
He said the morale of the Syrian army was high, adding: 'We are the resistance axe in the Arab world.'
In safe hands : An Italian soldier gives water to a rescued girl aboard the Foscari ship near Sicily after recovering almost 200 people from a crippled fishing boat who are believed to have fled the violence in Syria
Desperate measures : Italy's coast guard and navy rescue about 350 people, mostly Syrians, off the coast of Sicily from a badly overcrowded and crippled fishing boat which they used to escape the civil war
Traumatic: Among those rescued from the boat were 48 children, including a four-day-old girl born on the crossing
State television today quoted Assad telling a delegation of Yemeni politicians: 'The threats of direct aggression against Syria will only increase our commitment to our deep-rooted principles and the independent will of our people.
'Syria will defend itself in the face of any aggression.'
Fears of a possible U.S. strike against Syria and the possibility of all-out war have rippled across the region.
Around 6,000 Syrians fled to neighboring Lebanon in a 24-hour period and Israelis scrambled for gas masks in case Damascus retaliates against them.
Maya Avishai of the Israeli postal service, which oversees gas mask distribution, said demand has tripled in recent days.
About five million Israelis, roughly 60 per cent of the population, now have gas masks, she said.
Turkey is also on alert against possible chemical attacks from Syria and has stocked food and gas masks along their shared border.
The Turkish government's crisis management centre said on Twitter that officials had designated bunkers at seven areas along the border to protect the people in the area from harm.
It also said a team of 100 chemical weapons experts were sent to the border area which was being screened for any signs of chemical attacks.
Romania has also told its citizens in Syria to leave the country 'as soon as possible'.
Meanwhile, U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon has pleaded for more time for diplomacy and to allow U.N. investigators to complete their work.
He says he will receive a report on Saturday from weapons inspectors investigating an apparent Syrian chemical attack.
The chemical weapons team was preparing to start a third day of investigations into an apparent poison gas attack in the area.
It is expected to hand a report to Ban on Saturday.
Escape from Assad : Syrian refugees use containers to collect water at the Arbat refugee camp in the northern Iraqi province of Sulaimaniya after fleeing the violence in their native country
Conflict rages : Free Syrian Army soldiers help their wounded fellow fighter in Al Rasheddin, Aleppo
Displaced : Chart shows the number of Syrian refugees who have fled to surrounding countries as of August 27
Activists said they had arrived in the eastern suburb of Douma and were going to examine the sites where activists say rockets loaded with chemical weapons struck.
The team will also run more tests and interviews with the wounded, they said.
Seven days after chemical weapons were purportedly unleashed on rebel-held suburbs of the Syrian capital, momentum grew toward Western military action against President Bashar Assad's regime.
At the same time, Syria's chief allies, Russia and Iran, warned of dire consequences for the region if any armed intervention is undertaken.
Iranian president Hassan Rouhani has said his country will press efforts to ward off military action by the U.S. and its allies against the Tehran-backed regime of Assad.
The remarks came during a phone conversation between Mr Rouhani and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
Mobilizing : Israeli soldiers patrol near an Armored Personal carrier near the border with Syria after the Israeli cabinet authorized a call-up of army reservists amid growing expectations of a foreign military strike on Assad
Eyes on the skies : An 'Iron Dome' missile battery of the Israeli army in industrial area of Haifa
On alert : A Patriot surface-to-air missile is positioned in the Mediterranean coastal city of Haifa north of Israel
Mr Rouhani was quoted as saying 'military action will bring great costs for the region' and 'it is necessary to apply all efforts to prevent it'.
Iran's Revolutionary Guards chief, Mohammad Ali Jafari, also said today that an attack on Syria would lead to the 'imminent destruction' of Israel and would prove a 'second Vietnam' for America, according to an Iranian news agency.
U.S. leaders, including Vice President Joe Biden, have charged that Assad's government was behind the August 21 attack that Doctors Without Borders says killed at least 355 people.
The White House says it's planning a possible military response while seeking support from international partners.
The U.S. has not presented concrete proof of Syrian regime involvement in the attack, and U.N. inspectors have not endorsed the allegations, although the U.N. envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, said evidence suggests some kind of 'substance' was used that killed hundreds.
With many seeing Western intervention no longer a question of if but when, there were signs of growing fears across the wider region.
At least 6,000 Syrians crossed into Lebanon in a 24-hour period through the main Masnaa crossing, including an estimated 4,000 on Wednesday, according to Lebanese security officials in the country's Bekaa Valley near the border.
The normal daily influx is 500 to 1,000 refugees, depending on the level of fighting.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
Long lines of packed cars - some with suitcases strapped to roofs - were backed up at the frontier post, witnesses said.
Gathering evidence : U.N. chemical weapons experts wearing gas masks carry samples from one of the sites of an alleged gas attack while escorted by Free Syrian Army fighters in the Ain Tarma district of Damascus
On the frontline : Members of a UN team of arms experts inspect the site where rockets fell in Damascus
Delicate operation : A member of a UN investigation team takes samples of sands near a part of a missile believed to be one of the chemical rockets fired at civilians in Damascus last week, killing hundreds
A security official said about 2,000 also crossed into Syria, but many of them said they were going in to evacuate relatives.
One woman, Um Ahmad, entered Lebanon with her five children, saying she fearing U.S. strikes on Damascus.
'Isn't it enough, all the violence and fighting that we already have in the country, now America wants to bomb us, too?' the 45-year-old said, declining to give her full name for security concerns.
Gearing up for war : A graphic looking at the options open to the West if it were to launch strikes on Syria
Running gun battles : Free Syrian Army fighters run to take cover from snipers loyal to Syria's President Bashar Al-Assad near Aleppo International airport
A Sukhoi-22 fighter jet of the Syrian air force : An Assad loyalist claims 13 pilots had signed a pledge this week saying they would form 'a crew of suicide martyrs to foil the U.S. warplanes'
Nearly two million Syrians have fled the country since the crisis began in March 2011 and millions more are displaced inside Syria.
Effects were also evident in Israel, where large crowds lined up at gas-mask distribution centres.
Meanwhile, the Israeli government ordered a 'limited' call-up of reserve units to bolster civil defense preparations and to operate air-defense units near the border. Officials said the call-up is anticipated to bring in hundreds of troops.
While Israeli officials believe the chances of a Syrian strike remain slim, there are concerns that Damascus may respond to any U.S.-led military action by attacking the Jewish state, a close American ally.
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