Published time: August 27, 2013 10:56
Edited time: September 03, 2013 15:22
International pressure has been building for a military strike on Syria in the wake of an alleged chemical weapons attack in a Damascus suburb. The West has laid the blame at the feet of President Assad, as UN experts collected chemical samples on-site.
Tuesday, September 3
15:21 GMT: France won’t intervene in Syria unilaterally, should the US Congress veto military action against Syria, French President Francois Hollande has said.
15:05 GMT: The Israeli Defense Ministry confirmed a US defense agency took part in a “successful flight test of the new version of the Sparrow target missile” in an e-mail statement to RT Arabic.
“Israel’s Missile Defense Organization and the US Missile Defense Agency officials conducted the flight test. The main contractor for the integration and development of the Sparrow is Rafael and the main contractor of the Arrow Weapon System is MLM of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) in conjunction with Boeing,” the statement explained.
14:39 GMT: Pentagon has confirmed the US Defense Department took part in Israeli missile test in the Mediterranean.
The missile test was carried out “with technical support of the US Defense Department,” the department spokesman George Little said as quoted by Itar-Tass.
According to Little, the test was “pre-planned.”
14:12 GMT: US President Barack Obama held a White House meeting with select members of Congress to discuss the Syrian crisis in Washington on Tuesday morning. The president again stressed that he was pursuing a limited and proportional military strike that would degrade the Assad regime’s capabilities of using chemical weapons while also underlining a broader strategy that will allow the US to assist opposition fighters in the future if necessary.
When asked if he was confident that Congress would authorize the use of military force against the Syrian government, Obama replied, “I am.”
13:40 GMT: The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) announced on Tuesday that more than 2 million Syrians have fled the country since civil war began in March 2011.
“The war is now well into its third year and Syria is hemorrhaging women, children and men who cross borders often with little more than the clothes on their backs,” the UNHCR statement read.
A further 4.25 million people have been displaced inside Syria, according to data from the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). This makes the country’s refugee crisis “unparalleled in recent history,”UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said.
12:37 GMT: World markets immediately plunged on Tuesday after the Russian Defense Ministry reported the launch of two ballistic missiles in the eastern Mediterranean. The FTSE 100 slumped down nearly one percent (7.01 points), and stock markets in Germany and France experienced similar losses. Traders reacted to fears of escalation of war in the Middle East as far as India, as the BSE Sensex fell nearly 4 percent (651 points) on “geopolitical worries,”Reuters India reported.
Some of the markets recovered soon after the launch was claimed by IDF to be a joint Israeli-US early warning system test.
11:30 GMT: The US Navy did not fire any missiles from ships in the Mediterranean, according to a spokesman for the US Navy’s European headquarters.
“No missiles were fired from U.S. ships in the Mediterranean,” the spokesman said.
10:58 GMT: Israel claimed a joint missile launch with the US in the Mediterranean Sea. The Israeli Defense Ministry spokesmen told journalists that they tested an Ankor-type (“Sparrow”) target missile to check how well the anti-missile system known as “Arrow-3” functions. The launch took place at 06:15 GMT, the ministry spokesmen added.
10:08 GMT: Syria’s missile warning system has not detected any rockets landing on the country’s territory, a Syrian security source has told Lebanese channel al-Manar TV.
9:59 GMT: Russia’s early warning radars have detected the launch of two ballistic rockets in the eastern Mediterranean, Russia’s Defense Ministry stated. The launch reportedly took place at 06:16 GMT Tuesday.
The trajectory of the missiles is reported to have been from the central part of the Mediterranean Sea towards the eastern landmass. Both rockets have allegedly fallen into the sea 300 kilometers off the coast, RIA Novosti news agency reported.
00:30 GMT: Samples collected by the UN chemical experts team in the Damascus suburb will be transferred to laboratories for analysis “within hours,” a spokesperson for UN Secretary-General ban Ki-moon has said in a note to correspondents.
“Since the return of the Mission last Saturday, the UN team worked around the clock to finalize the preparations of the samples in view of their shipment to the designated laboratories.”
“The samples were shipped this afternoon from The Hague and will reach their destination within hours,” the note continued.
It added that the designated laboratories are prepared to begin the analyses “immediately after receipt of samples.”