Report: US strike on Syria to be 'significantly larger than expected'

ABC News: US is planning an aerial strike in addition to a salvo of Tomahawk missiles from Navy destroyers; New York Times: Obama ordered expansion of list of targets following reports Assad moved troops, equipment.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
September 6, 2013 10:32
2 minute read.
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Gravely.

USS Gravely 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/ Lt. Cmdr. Corey Barker/U.S. Navy/Handout)

 
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Despite statements from both US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry that a US-led strike on Syria would be a "limited and tailored" military attack, ABC News reported on Thursday that the strike planned by Obama's national security team is "significantly larger" than most have anticipated.

According to ABC News, in additional to a salvo of 200 Tomahawk cruise missiles fired from four Navy destroyers stationed in the eastern Mediterranean, the US is also planning an aerial campaign that is expected to last two days.

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This campaign potentially includes an aerial bombardment of missiles and long range bombs from US-based B-2 stealth bombers that carry satellite-guided bombs, B-52 bombers, that can carry air-launched cruise missiles and Qatar-based B-1s that carry long-range, air-to-surface missiles, both ABC News and The New York Times reported.

"This military strike will do more damage to [Syrian President Bashar] Assad's forces in 48 hours than the Syrian rebels have done in two years," a national security official told ABC News.

Crisis in Syria - full JPost.com coverage

Meanwhile, Obama has directed the Pentagon to expand the list of potential targets in Syria following reports Assad's forces have moved troops and equipment used to employ chemical weapons in anticipation of the US-led strike against them, the Times reported on Thursday.

In order to degrade Assad's ability to use chemical weapons, the list of 50 or so major sites has to be expected, officials told the Times.



Targets include military units that have stored and prepared the chemical weapons, as well as headquarters who ordered the attacks and units who carried them out. Other targets include rockets and artillery that have launched the attacks, the Times quotes military officials as saying.

US military chief of staff Martin Dempsey said targets would also include equipment used to protect the chemicals - air defenses, long-range missiles and rockets.

The attack would not target the chemical stockpiles in fear that doing so could cause catastrophe.

Price tag

In Washington, US lawmakers questioned the possible price tag of a military operation in Syria.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel told Congress on Wednesday the military operation is expected to cost "tens of millions" of dollars, according to AFP.

This estimate is based on the assumption the military intervention in Syria would only last a few days.

A single Tomahawk missile costs $1.5 million, while keeping some ships in the area would cost millions more, Navy chief Admiral Jonathan Greenert said on Thursday, but those numbers are "not extraordinary at this point."

In addition to the four destroyers the US Navy currently has stationed in the Mediterranean, aircraft carrier Nimitz and accompanying warships are ready at the Red Sea in case they are needed.

The carrier strike group costs up to $40 million a week if the aircraft on board are engaged in combat-related flights, while routine operations cost $25 million a week, Greenert said.

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