U.S. President Obama will take a decision that may see strikes as early as Thursday.
Western powers could attack Syria within days, envoys from the United States and its allies have told rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad, Reuters news agency reported Tuesday.
The United States, U.K. and France raised their rhetoric on Tuesday, repeating their vow to respond to a chemical weapon attack in Syria.
Syria blames opposition “terrorists” for the attack. A United Nations team visited the site of the attack on Monday and investigations are ongoing.
The U.S. said on Tuesday that there must be a response to the attack, and French president, Francois Holande, said his country was ready to punish those responsible for the use of chemical weapons.
The United Kingdom’s Prime Minister, David Cameron, recalled the parliament from vacation to discuss adequate response.
But public opinion remained largely divided about the planned military action with many Americans, as British expressing their doubt the Syrian government would use chemical weapon so close to the capital, Damascus, in a war it already has the upper hand.
At a press conference on Tuesday, White House spokesman, Joe Carney, said the Obama administration had gone beyond the question of whether chemical weapons were used or who used them.
“The Assad regime is the only possible force that could have deployed [chemical weapons],” Mr. Carney said. “There has to be a response to that clear violation of international norms.”
Defence secretary, Chuck Hagel repeated an earlier warning that U.S. forces in the region are “ready to go”, once President Barack Obama takes a decision.
Asked if U.S. forces were ready to strike Syria just “like that”, Mr. Hagel told the BBC: “We are ready to go, like that.”
“We have moved assets in place to be able to fulfill and comply with whatever option the president wishes to take,” he said.
According to Reuters, several sources who attended a meeting in Istanbul on Monday between Syrian opposition leaders and diplomats from Washington and other governments said the rebels were told to expect military action and to get ready to negotiate a peace.
“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 said.
In an indication of support from Arab states that may help Western powers argue the case for war against likely U.N. vetoes from Moscow and Beijing, the Arab League issued a statement holding Assad’s government responsible for the chemical attack.
The Syrian government, which denies using gas or obstructing the U.N. inspectors, said it would press on with its offensive against rebels around the capital.
Foreign Minister, Walid al-Moualem, said U.S. strikes would help al Qaeda allies and called Western leaders “delusional” if they hoped to help the rebels reach a balance of power in Syria.
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