Syrian forces, and their allies are withdrawing from military bases likely to be targeted in a potential US airstrike.
Pro-Assad militants, and some Syrian government forces, are moving people and equipment out of the way ahead of an impending attack by the United States.
The movements were reported by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights NGO, and also by The New York Times.
Satellite imagery also showed ten Russian warships and a submarine leaving a port in western Syria.
The clear-out came after President Donald Trump warned his foes to “get ready” for a US missile strike, apparently contradicting his former opinion that telegraphing military action is a big mistake.
On April 8, 2018, the US president warned of a “big price” to pay and agreed with France’s Emmanuel Macron to coordinate a “strong, joint response” to Assad over the attacks.
In a tweet on April 11, 2018, Trump warned Russia that US missiles “will be coming, nice, and new and ‘smart!'”
There are potential advantages to telegraphing your actions — the main one being that it helps avoid accidental escalation in a busy conflict zone where Russia is also active.
On April 12, 2018 Trump also reintroduced some ambiguity, saying that the attack “could be very soon or not so soon at all!”