US ready to launch Syria strike

WASHINGTON - American forces are "ready" to launch strikes on Syria if President Barack Obama chooses to order an attack, US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel says.

"We have moved assets in place to be able to fulfil and comply with whatever option the president wishes to take," Mr Hagel told the BBC.

US Secretary of State John Kerry has said there is "undeniable" proof that Syria used chemical weapons.

The UK Parliament is to be recalled on Thursday to discuss possible responses.

Prime Minister David Cameron, who has cut short his holiday and returned to London, said MPs would vote on a "clear motion" on the crisis.

Above all, fear and discomfort are palpable among those living in the capital. People are haunted by the possibility of a Western military strike on Syria, discussion of which is dominating the headlines of satellite channels.

"I don't want Syria to become another Iraq... Enough bloodshed," cried one Syrian woman.

"We, and thousands like us across Syria, will face any country that tries to attack us," threatened a young man, pointing at his weapon, which he uses to protect his neighbourhood. "These are Syria's problems and it is up to us, Syrians, to solve them."

Syria's allies, Russia and China, have stepped up their warnings against military intervention in Syria, with Moscow saying any such action would have "catastrophic consequences" for the region.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem has said he rejects "utterly and completely" claims that Syrian forces used chemical weapons.

His government has blamed rebel fighters for the latest suspected chemical attack, which took place on 21 August near the Syrian capital Damascus and reportedly killed more than 300 people.

On Monday, United Nations chemical weapons inspectors were fired on while investigating one of the five alleged chemical weapons attack sites around Damascus.
'We are prepared'

Mr Hagel said the US Department of Defence had provided President Obama with "all options for all contingencies".

"He has seen them, we are prepared," he told the BBC's Jon Sopel, adding: "We are ready to go."

Mr Hagel said that intelligence currently being gathered by the UN inspectors would confirm that the Syrian government was responsible for the chemical attack last week.

"I think it's pretty clear that chemical weapons were used against people in Syria," he said.

Comments (1)

They must go in and destroy the Syrian Governments military capacity. That is Air Force Aircraft and bases, military armor including the bases, missile sites etc. The drones can eliminate the foot soldiers and their equipment. If they do that then the rebels are on a more equal footing and will win the battle.

Peter Macklyn - 29 August 2013

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