US moves naval forces, no decision on Syria strike
Syrian forces used chemical weapons: agenciesReuters . Washington / New Age Online
The United States on Friday was repositioning naval forces in the Mediterranean to give President Barack Obama the option for an armed strike on Syria, although officials cautioned that Obama had made no decision on military action.
A defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the U.S. Navy would expand its presence in the Mediterranean to four destroyers from three.
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, en route to Asia, said Obama had asked the Pentagon for options on Syria, where an apparent chemical weapons attack that killed as many as 1,000 civilians has upped pressure on Washington to respond.
‘The Defense Department has responsibility to provide the president with options for all contingencies,’ Hagel said. ‘And that requires positioning our forces, positioning our assets, to be able to carry out different options - whatever options the president might choose,’ he did not elaborate.
The defense official, who was not authorized to speak publicly, said the USS Mahan, a destroyer armed with cruise missiles, had finished its deployment and was due to head back to its home base in Norfolk, Virginia. But the commander of the U.S. Sixth Fleet has decided to keep the ship in the region, the defense official said.
Syrian forces used chemical weapons: agencies
U.S. and allied intelligence agencies have made a preliminary assessment that chemical weapons were used by Syrian forces in an attack near Damascus this week, likely with high-level approval from the government of President Bashar al-Assad, according to American and European security sources.
The early intelligence finding could increase pressure for action by President Barack Obama, who made clear that he planned to tread cautiously even as his aides sought to narrow their differences in debate over possible military responses to the Syrian government.
The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, cautioned that the assessment was preliminary and, at this stage, they were still seeking conclusive proof, which could take days, weeks or even longer to gather.
Syria would be ‘crime against humanity’ if chemical weapons use: Ban
The use of any chemical weapons in Syria would amount to a ‘crime against humanity’ and there would be ‘serious consequences’ for the perpetrators, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Friday, while urging an immediate investigation on this matter, UN news centre.
‘Any use of chemical weapons anywhere, by anybody, under any circumstances, would violate international law,’ Ban said ahead of a meeting in Seoul, Republic of Korea (ROK) on the Millennium Development Goals.
‘Such a crime against humanity should result in serious consequences for the perpetrator. Once again, I call for an immediate investigation of this latest incident’, he further said.
A UN team is currently in Syria spending up to 14 days, with a possible extension, probing the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Government at Khan al-Asal, as well as two other allegations reported by Member States.
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