U.S. ready to strike; Syria vows to repel attackers
by Associated Press
Posted on August 27, 2013 at 6:26 AM
Updated today at 12:26 PM
WASHINGTON D.C.(AP) – U.S. forces are now ready to act on any order by President Barack Obama to strike Syria, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Tuesday.
The U.S. Navy has four destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean Sea positioned within range of targets inside Syria, as well as U.S. warplanes in the region, Hagel said in an interview with BBC television during his visit to the southeast Asian nation of Brunei.
Obama asked the Pentagon to give him “all options for all contingencies,” Hagel said, and “we have done that.”
Syria’s foreign minister said Tuesday his country would defend itself using “all means available” in case of a U.S. strike, denying his government was behind an alleged chemical weapons attack near Damascus and challenging Washington to present proof backing up its accusations.
The United Nations said that its team of chemical weapons experts in Syria delayed a second trip to investigate an alleged poison gas attack near Damascus by one day for security reasons.
Walid al-Moallem, speaking at a press conference in Damascus, likened U.S. allegations that President Bashar Assad’s regime was behind a purported poison gas attack to false American charges that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction before the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of that country.
“They have a history of lies – Iraq,” he said. Al-Moallem spoke a day after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said there was “undeniable” evidence of a large-scale chemical attack likely launched by Assad’s regime.
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