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Bulgaria: US moves military assets near Black Sea Coast

Lt Gen Evgeny Buzhinsky told Dermot Murnaghan that shooting down American missiles is the least that Russia would do, and that if Russian blood is shed in Syria, then Americans “will shed their blood also”.

“Your Prime Minister Churchill said if you had to choose between war and disgrace and you choose disgrace, then you get both. I don’t think Putin will choose disgrace,” he added.

Asked how close we are to nuclear war, Mr Buzhinsky said: “Very close – closer than we were during the 1962 Cuban crisis.”

He said Russia has been cornered and demonised from all angles.

“We are at all kinds of war with the collective West. Economic war, diplomatic war, information war – the last war which we’re not waging yet is a real fought war.”

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US would not seem to leave Syria “very soon” but, conversely, recent satellite imagery (al-Tanf and surrounding areas) reveals Washington increasing its presence in the war-torn country

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., agreed with President Trump that American involvement in Syria needs to end, but said Trump’s statement that the U.S. will leave soon is off-base.

Sanders said on CNN’s “State of the Union” the U.S. cannot stay in Syria forever but the idea that American forces can leave “very soon,” as Trump said, isn’t possible.

“It’s not a yes or no,” Sanders said when he was asked if he agreed with Trump’s statement in a speech Thursday.

“I think we absolutely do not want to get involved in this terrible civil war in Syria, which is so destructive, so destabilizing to the entire region. But, I don’t know that you can pull out tomorrow.”

Trump caught much of the foreign policy world off-guard Thursday when he said he expected the U.S. to leave Syria soon.

“By the way, we’re knocking the hell out of ISIS. We’re coming out of Syria very soon. Let the other people take care of it now — very soon, very soon, we’re coming out,” Trump said.

“We’ll have 100 percent of the caliphate as they call it, sometimes referred to as land, we are taking it all back quickly, quickly. We’re going to be coming out of there real soon, going back to our country where we belong, where we want to be.”

Sanders said working with all the region’s players — including Russia — must be a part of the peace process.

“Our job now is to work with our allies in the entire region and that is to do everything that we can to bring peace to Syria, make sure that Russia is part of that process,” he said. “But absolutely, I do not want to see American troops get stuck in a never ending civil war in Syria.”

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https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/bernie-sanders-trump-is-right-that-us-cant-stay-in-syria-forever-but-americans-cant-pull-out-tomorrow

US-led forces establish new military outposts east of Hajin, Deir ez-Zor

The battleground in eastern Syria has only grown more complex as the U.S.-led, mostly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces and the Russia-backed Syrian military fought two separate campaigns to destroy ISIS. As the Syrian military, backed by various pro-government militias—many of which were supported by Iran—and Russian warplanes, retook Deir Ezzor city and the border town of Al-Bukamal, they declared victory over ISIS and reclaimed the region for Assad.

On the other side of the Euphrates River, however, the Syrian Democratic Forces maintained control of lucrative oil fields. The Kurdish leadership had reportedly entered into preliminary talks with the Syrian government to negotiate the return of these sites in exchange for greater autonomy across majority-Kurdish northern Syria, but two major developments have upset the dynamics of eastern Syria.

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http://www.newsweek.com/us-wanted-attack-russians-syria-again-moscow-stepped-mattis-says-864666

Something is moving in China too. Military hardware spotted north east of Beijing, the city where Kim Jong Un allegedly made a surprise visit today

Kim Jong Un made a surprise visit to Beijing on his first known trip outside North Korea since taking power in 2011, three people with knowledge of the visit said.

Further details of his trip, including how long Kim would stay and who he would meet, were not immediately available. The people asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the information.

Speculation about a possible visit by a high-ranking North Korean official circulated around the Chinese capital Monday, after Japan’s Kyodo News reported that a special train may have carried Kim through the northeastern border city of Dandong. Nippon TV showed footage of a train arriving Monday in Beijing that looked similar to one used by Kim’s father, Kim Jong Il, to visit the country shortly before his death in 2011.

The unannounced visit is the latest in series of diplomatic power plays in Asia as U.S. President Donald Trump’s battle to lower the U.S.’s trade deficit becomes entangled with his effort to get Kim to give up his nuclear weapons. Chinese President Xi Jinping has found himself preparing for a trade war with Trump even after supporting progressive rounds of United Nations sanctions against the Kim regime.

It is not clear if the U.S. had advance knowledge of Kim’s visit. A State Department spokesman, Julia Mason, responded to questions about the report with a single sentence: “We’d refer you to the Chinese.”

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https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-26/north-korean-leader-kim-jong-un-is-said-to-be-visiting-china

Russia deploys at least 3x Bastion-P coastal defence missile system towards Taganrog, Rostov Oblast close to Ukraine border

A coastguard ship of the Ukrainian State Border Guard Service has arrested, in the Ukrainian waters of the Azov Sea, a fishing vessel flying the flag of the Russian Federation, with a crew of ten people on board.

“The vessel NORD was stopped 15 miles from the Obytichna spit. It was established during the inspection that it was registered in the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. In addition, crew members violated the procedure for leaving the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine. All of them had so-called passports of Russian citizens issued in the city of Kerch,” the press office of the Ukrainian State Border Guard Service reported on Monday.

The vessel, with the crew on board, was arrested and tugged to the port of Berdiansk for further verification and procedural actions. The identity of the detainees will also be established. In addition, a trawl for fishing and five tonnes of seafood were found during the inspection of the vessel.

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http://en.interfax.com.ua/news/general/494645.html

US unloads LIBERTY PRIDE Ro-Ro ship in Jordan

Southwest Syria could be the next confrontation zone in Syria’s multiple regional wars. The US-Russian cease-fire agreement is collapsing, except in the buffer zone on the Iraqi-Jordanian border. The Syrian regime and its allies are making their way through to the Nassib border crossing and the Golan Heights. These new dynamics are altering the calculations of Jordan and Israel, while further weakening the armed opposition on the southern front.

On March 12, the Syrian military launched airstrikes on Daraa province, the first violation of the cease-fire agreement. Civilians began to flee these areas, as the Russian military is using scare tactics. Spokesperson of the Khmeimim base, Alexander Ivanov, had warned a day before on March 11 that “after securing the perimeters of the capital [city] Damascus, [we seek] to eliminate terrorists present south of the country.”

The United States promptly called for restraint and held an urgent meeting for the armed opposition groups operating under the Amman-based Military Operations Center, which has been inactive since late last year. Pro-opposition news websites have speculated that Washington is planning a wide-ranging military campaign in southwestern Syria.

However, a Pentagon official told Al-Monitor that the United States is focused on defeating the Islamic State (IS) in southeastern Syria and is “not involved in monitoring de-escalation zones.” This comment from the Pentagon is noteworthy, considering the presumed existence of the Amman Center for cease-fire control in southwestern Syria, which includes Quneitra, Daraa and Suweida provinces.

More importantly, the two major players in southwestern Syria — neighbors Jordan and Israel — have been surprisingly silent as the Russian-backed Syrian regime expands territorial gains. There might be Russian assurances to both countries that their interests will be preserved.

Jordan seems ready to move on

Jordan has for a while now had fatigue from the Syrian civil war and has recently failed to convince the Syrian armed opposition to transfer the Nassib border crossing to the Syrian regime. Amman is prioritizing the need to reopen this crossing to reinvigorate its economy. Russia is not sanctioning any attack in the Jordanian buffer zone near the Iraqi border where the US-controlled al-Tanf base is located. The Syrian regime is advancing along the Damascus-Daraa highway and is about to reach the Nassib border crossing.

Meanwhile, armed opposition groups on the southern front have been publicly talking about uniting their efforts to push back the Syrian regime and its allies; however, they have long been dependent on foreign support to operate. The armed groups operating in Daraa remain divided with no coherent military structure. This past January, the Revolutionary Army and the Sunni Youth Forces clashed in eastern Daraa, and a disengagement force had to be deployed between them. Furthermore, radical groups are benefiting from the chaos. Khaled bin Walid, which pledges allegiance to IS, attempted this week to advance from the Yarmouk basin toward the Jordanian border.

Amman’s ability to act in this turmoil is disabled by US-Russian tensions; hence, Jordan will most likely not pick winners in the race to control Daraa. The challenge is what will happen after the Syrian regime reaches the Jordanian border. Will the armed opposition launch an attack on the Syrian regime deployed along the Damascus-Daraa highway? Will the regime use the same tactics of eastern Ghouta by dividing the territories of rival armed opposition groups and compel them to make separate concessions? The collapse of the US-Russian cease-fire in southwest Syria undermines Jordanian interests, and Amman will now have to limit the damage.

Quneitra and Israel’s defiance

Israel continues to target the Syrian regime and Iranian proxies with Russian consent — or at least without Russian objection. What is remarkable, though, is the deafening Israeli silence and inaction as the Syrian regime has now reached the 1974 cease-fire line near the Lebanese-Syrian border.

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http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/03/us-cedes-southwest-syria-jordan-israel-hedge-bets.html#ixzz5Ahj3XCz4

US seems busy in the east of Al Mayadin, Deir ez-Zor countryside, it is also reported Coalition’s intention to develope an advanced military base around al-Omar oilfield (2x Black Hawk)

Soldiers from the United States are preventing Syrian government troops from moving to the northern part of the country, especially the eastern zone of Deir-Ezzor, Russian Ministry of Defense (MINDEF).

One of the main directions in the work of Syrian authorities is the return to Deir-Ezzor, which is controlled by the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces, which are protected by the United States, the MINDEF said.

However, the U.S. troops deployed in that region prevent the resumption of work by Syrian state entities, the Russian Ministry noted.

It is impossible for the Syrians to return to the eastern region of the Euphrates River, due to the absence of bridges or other roads to reach the other shore, after they were destroyed by the U.S.-led coalition.

The MINDEF also accused the United States of preventing the passing of humanitarian convoys to the city of Raqqa, a former bastion of the Islamic State (IS) and attacked by the western coalition under the pretext of anhilitating that extremist group.

However, the Russian Ministry said that hundreds of bodies, of civilians mostly, remain under the rubble in Raqqa. The United Nations Human Rights Council had to recognize the worrying humanitarian situation in that city and the responsibility of the West in that case.

In addition, in the aforementioned city is affected by contagious diseases that may become an epidemic with the onset of the summer season, the MINDEF pointed out.

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http://www.plenglish.com/index.php?o=rn&id=25761&SEO=u.s.-prevents-state-troops-from-moving-to-northern-syria-russia-says