A huge task force of 12 warships is setting sail for Syria in one of the biggest concentrations of US naval power since the 2003 Iraq invasion, it has emerged.
The giant nuclear powered USS Harry S Truman, carrying 90 aircraft and escorted by its five-strong strike group of destroyers and cruisers, is powering towards Europe and the Middle East.
The Daily Mail reports,
A further four destroyers are believed to be in or near the Mediterranean already, including the Donald Cook, Porter, Carney and Laboon along with two nuclear-powered submarines, Georgia and John Warner.
It comes amid heightened tensions as Donald Trump continues to consider launching airstrikes on Syria in retaliation for a chemical gas attack in a rebel-held town on Saturday.
Russia has threatened to take down any missiles launched at the Assad regime’s forces using its fearsome S-400 defence system.
Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad has reportedly moved his military assets to Russian bases in the country in the hope that the US and its allies would be reluctant to launch strikes anywhere near Vladimir Putin’s forces.
The USS Harry S Truman and its support ships were due to leave Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia on Wednesday.
It is accompanied by the cruiser USS Normandy and destroyers USS Farragut, USS Forrest Sherman, USS Bulkeley and USS Arleigh Burke.
Also among the strike group’s ships is the German frigate FGS Hessen, a state-of-the-art vessel specialising in air defense.
US Navy officials said the Hessen is the only type of ship in the Western world with three kinds of surface-to-air missiles. Its radar has a detection range of more than 200 nautical miles for air targets.
Already in position is the USS Donald Cook, an American destroyer equipped with up to 60 Tomahawk land attack missiles.
In April last year Trump ordered 59 Tomahawk strikes on the Shayrat Airbase in response to a chemical weapons attack on rebel-held Khan Sheikhun.
These strikes were launched from two US warships stationed in the Mediterranean.
Trump and his national security aides on Thursday discussed US options on Syria, where he has threatened missile strikes in response to a poison gas attack, as a Russian envoy voiced fears of wider conflict between Washington and Moscow.
Worries about a confrontation between Russia, Syria’s big ally, and the West have been running high since Trump said on Wednesday that missiles ‘will be coming’ in response to the attack in the Syrian town of Douma on April 7, and lambasted Moscow for standing by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
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