Western leaders prepare for military strike on Syria ‘within days’

28-08-2013

 

A probable military strike on Syria by the United States and its allies could come within days, Western envoys have told the Syrian opposition, as more support grew early Wednesday for military intervention in the crisis-torn country.

The Western envoys are believed to have made a decision on a military response to a recent deadly chemical weapons attack in Syria during a meeting with the opposition Syrian National Coalition in Istanbul this week.

Australia, a close U.S. ally and incoming chair of the United Nations Security Council, on Wednesday also endorsed possible action against Syria even if the security council fails to agree.

Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel met with his Asian counterparts on Wednesday as the United States promotes its strategic tilt towards the region but a potential showdown with Syria loomed over the talks, AFP news agency reported.

U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden has said there is no doubt” that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons and that it must be held accountable.

Biden is the most senior member of the Obama administration to blame the Syrian government for the attack.

Obama has yet to make a final decision on the U.S. response, a White House spokesman said, but left little doubt that it would involve military action. He insisted, however, that Washington was not intent on “regime change,” signaling that any military strikes would be limited and not meant to topple Assad.

“The opposition was told in clear terms that action to deter further use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime could come as early as in the next few days, and that they should still prepare for peace talks at Geneva,” one of the sources who was at the meeting on Monday told Reuters.

Analysts expect to see cruise missiles launched from U.S. and allied submarines, ships and possibly planes, firing into Syria from outside its waters and airspace, according to AFP.

European plans

The UK has said it is drawing up contingency plans for military action in response to last week’s alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria.

“We are continuing to discuss with our international partners what the right response should be, but, as part of this, we are making contingency plans for the armed forces,” AFP quoted the spokesperson as saying, AFP quoted Prime Minister David Cameron’s spokesperson as saying on Tuesday.

French President Francois Hollande said Tuesday that the Syrian civil war threatens the “world peace” and that his country is ‘ready to punish’ those behind the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

“France is ready to punish those who took the decision togas the innocent,” Hollande told an annual meeting in Paris of dozens of French ambassadors posted around the world.

The UK has said it is drawing up contingency plans for military action in response to last week’s alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria.

“We are continuing to discuss with our international partners what the right response should be, but, as part of this, we are making contingency plans for the armed forces,” AFP quoted the spokesperson as saying, AFP quoted Prime Minister David Cameron’s spokesperson as saying on Tuesday.

British Prime Minister David Cameron’s office said Wednesday that he and US President Barack Obama had no doubt Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime had used chemical weapons against its own people.

“Both leaders agreed that all the information available confirmed a chemical weapons attack had taken place, noting that even the Iranian President and Syrian regime had conceded this,” Downing Street said after the two leaders spoke on the phone Tuesday night.

“They both agreed they were in no doubt that the Assad regime was responsible,” it added in a statement.

“Regime forces were carrying out a military operation to regain that area from the opposition at the time; and there is no evidence that the opposition has the capability to deliver such a chemical weapons attack,” it said.

“The PM confirmed that the government had not yet taken a decision on the specific nature of our response, but that it would be legal and specific to the chemical weapons attack.”

The statement came as Cameron prepared to chair a meeting of Britain’s National Security Council later Wednesday.

The prime minister’s office calls his talks with Obama “an opportunity for the PM to hear the latest US thinking on the issue and to set out the options being considered by the government”.

 

Source: Alarabiya-AFP-Reuters

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