Looks like we are seeing the final preparations for the Syrian offensive on Idlib.
Couple of noteworthy things:
1. Masses of Russian ships in the Mediterranean off Syria, with many dozens of Kalibr cruise missiles and hundreds of Tor anti-air missiles between them:
Now in Med Sea:
CG Marshal Ustinov
DDG Yaroslav Mudryy
FFG Admiral Grigorovich
FFG Admiral Essen
FSG Vyshniy Volochek
FSG Grad Sviyazhsk
FSG Velikiy Ustyug
LST Nikolay Fil'chenkov
MS Valentin Pikul
SS Velikiy Novgorod
— Capt(N) (@Capt_Navy) August 25, 2018
Also some reports of Mig-31′s patrolling the Caspian with the new Kinzhal missiles:
#Russia/n AirForce MiG-31s armed with the new 'khinzhal' nuclear-capable air-launched ballistic missile (range=+2000km/speed= mach 10) r permanently flying sorties above the Caspian Sea, ready to strike enemy targets in & around #Syriahttps://t.co/Ppd2TTSZLp
(via H.Kristensen) pic.twitter.com/PSFUgEvoZC
— Brasco_Aad (@Brasco_Aad) August 25, 2018
This reportedly represents the greatest concentration of Russian naval assets in the Syrian theater since the start of the war.
The US and its allies are preparing new airstrikes on Syria, the Russian Defense Ministry said, adding that militants are poised to stage a chemical weapons attack in order to frame Damascus and provide a pretext for the strikes.
The attack would be used as a pretext for US, UK and French airstrikes on Syrian targets, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman, Major General Igor Konashenkov said. USS ‘The Sullivans,’ an Arleigh Burke-class Aegis guided missile destroyer, was already deployed to the Persian Gulf a couple of days ago, he added.
This isn’t the first time a Russian warning of a chemical weapons attack was preceded by an actual strike, so a provocation seems quite realistic. Especially with John Bolton as good as egging them on.