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Daniel’s Biblical “King of the North” (NATO) prophecy could be fulfilled in days (and let’s not forget Isaiah 17:1 too!)
UK and US military chiefs are drawing up a list of targets for precision-guided bombs and missiles to strike at the heart of Bashar Al-Assad’s regime. Defence correspondent Ian Drury looks at the options.
WHAT TARGETS WOULD THE COALITION HIT?
The favored option among top brass is for limited Western action using ‘stand-off’ weapons from long distance to disrupt Assad’s ability to carry out chemical attacks and damage his military machine.
Intelligence on targets would come from pilotless drones patrolling the skies above Syria and special forces on the ground.
Military analysts believe an attack could last between 24 and 48 hours and would target key regime installations.
These would include Syria’s integrated air defence system, command and control bunkers, communications hubs, government buildings, missile sites and Assad’s air force.
The dictator’s use of air power has been a huge advantage for the regime, and eliminating or weakening it would tilt the odds toward the rebels.
Other military options are airstrikes on Syrian units believed to be responsible for chemical attacks. Reports last week claimed the chemical weapons were fired by the 155th Brigade of the 4th Armoured Division of the Syrian Army.
This division, which has a military base in a mountain range west of Damascus is under the command of the president’s brother, Maher Assad.
WHAT BASES WOULD BE USED?
US-led strikes would be launched from warships or submarines patrolling in the eastern Mediterranean or Persian Gulf, or from combat aircraft that can fire missiles from hundreds of miles away.
A US Navy battlegroup including four destroyers is already in the eastern Mediterranean and has moved closer to Syria in preparation for action.
They are armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles capable of hitting a target from up to 1,200 miles away. Around 124 of the 18ft-long, £300,000 warheads were fired by US and British forces against Colonel Gaddafi’s forces during the Libyan war.
The US Air Force could also send B-2 stealth bombers to pound Assad’s military installations. Based in Missouri, they can cover the entire world with just one refuelling.
The most expensive aircraft ever – at a cost of £600million each – they are almost invisible to radar and can carry 40,000lbs of bombs.
As well as having F-16 fighter jets and refuelling aircraft based at airfields in the Middle East, the US also has defensive Patriot missile batteries positioned in Jordan, which neighbours Syria.
WHAT FIREPOWER CAN BRITAIN OFFER?
Despite multi-billion-pound cuts to the defence budge that have seen top brass axe fast jets, warships, spy planes and 30,000 troops, the armed forces can still contribute to an assault on Syria.
The Royal Navy could fire Tomahawk missiles from its nuclear-powered Trafalgar-class submarines – one of which is constantly on patrol in the Middle East.
The subs carry a giant payload of the super-accurate missiles.
Heavily-armed RAF Tornados could in theory fly from RAF Marham in Norfolk to attack targets in Syria – a 4,200 mile round trip – or be deployed to Cyprus to launch bombing raids from there.
Carrying precision-guided Storm Shadow missiles, the air crews could devastate enemy defenses including radar stations, anti-aircraft batteries and supply lines.