Report: Russian Black Sea Fleet on “High Level” Alert

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Washington, D.C.— The Russian Black Sea Fleet has reportedly been placed on high level combat alert after a U.S. ship left Cyprus for Syrian waters, according to the Russian Ministry of Defense as reported by Al-Masdar News of Beirut. Additionally, NBC News is reporting that the Russian military is jamming U.S. military drones operating over Syria, which is affecting American military operations, according to several U.S. officials. These moves by Russia likely come in anticipation of a possible U.S.-led coalition military strike.

A U.S. military strike— a decision yet to be made by President Trump, but one which he has strongly suggested— would be the result of an alleged chemical weapons attack in the in the city of Douma that was blamed on the Syrian Army by “rebels” as well as the White Helmets. In response, Russia claimed that their investigators found no traces of chemicals being used at the alleged attack site. An investigation team from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) will be traveling to Syria to conduct their own research following a request from Russia and Syria.

While Washington was quick to report that the Assad government was behind the alleged chemical attack, Russia warned weeks ago of false flag chemical weapons attacks by Islamist rebels intent on blaming the Assad government, as Truth in Media previously reported:

Russia’s Chief of the General Staff of Armed Forces, Valery Gerasimov, warned on Tuesday that Syrian rebels are preparing to utilize chemical weapons— to be blamed on the Syrian government— as a justification for U.S. strikes on Damascus, and cautioned that “in the event of a threat to our military servicemen’s lives, Russia’s Armed Forces will take retaliatory measures to target both the missiles and their delivery vehicles.”

“This has been confirmed by the discovery of a laboratory for the production of chemical weapons in the village of Aftris, which was liberated from terrorists,” Gerasimov stressed.

“As a countermeasure, Washington plans to deliver a missile and bomb strike against Damascus’ government districts,” Gerasimov continued.

The increased defensive alertness of Russian forces could raise concern, given Gerasimov’s warning of “retaliatory measures to target both missiles and their delivery vehicles.”

[Watch: Reality Check: No Sarin Gas Used by Assad in Syria?]

According to NBC News’ report:

The Russians began jamming some smaller U.S. drones several weeks ago, the officials said, after a series of suspected chemical weapons attacks on civilians in rebel-held eastern Ghouta. The Russian military was concerned the U.S. military would retaliate for the attacks and began jamming the GPS systems of drones operating in the area, the officials explained.

Dr. Todd Humphreys, an expert on GPS spoofing and jamming and director of the Radionavigation Laboratory at the University of Texas at Austin, warned that the Russian GPS jamming could be powerful, potentially causing them to malfunction.

“GPS receivers in most drones can be fairly easily jammed,” Humphreys said. “At the very least it could cause some serious confusion.”

NBC News reports that the Pentagon refused to say whether the jamming is causing drones to crash over concerns of operational security, but one official speaking off the record said the Russian jamming is sophisticated and has made a tactical impact on U.S. military operations in Syria.

“The U.S. military maintains sufficient countermeasures and protections to ensure the safety of our manned and unmanned aircraft, our forces and the missions they support,” Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon told NBC.

An unnamed U.S. official told NBC that the tactic is having an operational impact on U.S. military operations in Syria, and said “the equipment being used was developed by the Russian military and is very sophisticated, proving effective even against some encrypted signals and anti-jamming receivers.”

Investigative journalist Ben Swann’s most recent Reality Check fully summarizes the most recent chemical attack and the much larger conflict surrounding the incident:

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