THE world has witnessed a number of major terrorist attacks in 2017, which, coupled with rising tensions around the world and nuclear sabre-rattling from North Korea, have increased fears of a major military conflict.
The Sun has spoken to a range of military and terror experts about the possibility of World War Three taking place in 2017 – here is what they said.
Why is 2017 such a dangerous year?
Throughout the year, an array of events have taken unexpected twists and turns. Let’s recap.
Britain voted itself out of the European Union and continues to negotiate on Brexit.
There is continuing conflict in Syria with a chemical attack on civilians outraging the world .
Then there’s North Korea pushing ahead with its ballistic missile tests in its bid to become a nuclear power.
Kim responded by reportedly telling its giant neighbour it would be a “piece of cake” to nuke Japan and leave it “blanketed in radioactive clouds”.
ISIS is also being expelled from its so called Caliphate and its supporters are being encouraged to lash out with lone wolf terror attacks.
And top British military figures have warned how the UK has cut its forces back so much we would struggle to defend ourselves.
Why is Syria regarded as a World War 3 flashpoint?
Last year, Putin raced to the rescue of Bashar Assad’s regime, putting Russian on a collision course with the West.
Tensions later reached boiling point when at least 70 people were gassed to death by a nerve agent in the Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun, prompting Trump to order missile strikes after blaming the regime for the attack.
Russia and Iran said they will respond to further American military actions following the US air strikes.
In a joint statement, the command centre for the two countries and allied groups said “we will respond to any aggression”.
The statement read: “What America waged in an aggression on Syria is a crossing of red lines.
“From now on we will respond with force to any aggressor or any breach of red lines from whoever it is and America knows our ability to respond well.”
The US blasted Iran for “alarming provocations” and said it poses a bigger threat of nuclear war than North Korea.
Dr Alan Mendoza, executive director at the Henry Jackson Society security think-tank, told SunOnline: “We’ve seen Russia increase its sphere of influence and been quite aggressive on its borders and seemingly getting away with it. And that will empower to do more.
“The Russians have had it all their own way. Time [Magazine] said man of the year 2016 was Trump but actually it was Putin.
“Everything has gone his way. Everything.”
Will ISIS start a world war?
As ISIS flee their strongholds in Syria and Iraq they have the potential to embark on a world terror campaign with security chiefs fearing lone wolf attacks.
About 850 people from Britain and Northern Ireland have travelled to support or fight for jihadist organisations in Syria and Iraq, British authorities believe.
And around half have since returned to the UK, but the rest could follow when the so called Caliphate of ISIS is wiped out this year.
Veryan Khan, director of Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, said: “It’s nothing new, every time ISIS has losses, they attack abroad.
“It’s a way of showing their supporters they are still strong and can seemingly attack at will.
“Big or small in scale, it ‘puffs’ them up like a blow-fish and distracts everyone from fans to media alike from what is happening.”
As reported, ISIS fanatics are calling for lone wolf attacks in cinemas, malls and hospitals.
Is North Korea really a threat to world peace?
According to a regime defector, the North Korean leader’s New Years resolution was to make his nation a fully fledged nuclear power.
So far, the North has conductec nine missile tests during 2017.
“The North will not give them up even if the country is offered $1trillion or $10trillion in return.”
Kim Jong-un has dubbed America’s leaders a bunch of “rats sneaking around in the dark” amid claims the CIA plotted to wipe him out.
The country also threatened the US with a “full-scale” nuclear war and said it has the right to “ruthlessly punish” any American citizens it detains.
In a sign of its dangerously skittish nature, Pyongyang even threatened to nuke Donald Trump’s home town, New York, in a bid to silence the President’s ongoing mockery of their missile tests.
In July, 2017, the US Air Force deployed a number of supersonic bombers in a ‘North Korea nuke drill’ amid reports Donald Trump was weighing up a military strike against Kim Jong-un.
North Korea launched Hwasong-12 test missile on August 29 in a show of strength against Donald Trump and his partnership with South Korea.
Within weeks of the test Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe deemed “reckless”, Pyongyang launched a Hwasong-12 missile over his nation for the second time.
Footage released on North Korean TV captured the moment the missile – capable of reaching Guam – was launched.
Will Donald Trump risk starting a world war?
Arms-control experts say the rest of the world really should be worried about the potential fallout from some of the President’s tweets.
John Andrews, International affairs expert and veteran foreign correspondent, told Sun Online: “He [Trump] will be a real challenge for diplomats.
“One of the reasons is that we’ve become used to there just being one genuinely unpredictable world leader and that was Kim Jong-un.
“Now we have a second, Donald J Trump – and we are waiting to see how he will preside.
“There are big question marks over his character that came up during the campaign – is this alarmist?
“It’s difficult to know.”
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KIM IN THE CROSSHAIRS
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North Korea vows to destroy BRITAIN if ‘it plays with fire’ and joins US war drills