Hagel: U.S. ready to act on Syria
BANDER SERI BEGAWAN, Brunei (AP) - U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says U.S. forces are now ready to act on any order by President Barack Obama to strike Syria. The White House is expected to make an official announcement this morning.
The U.S. Navy has four destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean Sea within range of targets inside Syria. The U.S. also has warplanes in the region.
In an interview Tuesday with BBC television during a visit to the southeast Asian nation of Brunei, Hagel also predicted that U.S. intelligence agencies would soon conclude that last week's deadly attack on civilians in a Damascus suburb was a chemical attack by the government.
In the meantime, British Prime Minister David Cameron has recalled Parliament for an urgent discussion on a possible military response to the alleged chemical attack in Syria.
Cameron says the crisis session will be held Thursday, when Parliament would traditionally be on its summer recess.
He said Tuesday that there would be a clear government motion and vote on the British response to a chemical weapons attack in Syria.
In Syria this morning, the United Nations says that a team of chemical weapons experts has delayed a second trip to investigate an alleged poison gas attack near Damascus by one day.
The U.N. says in a statement the decision was made Tuesday in order to improve preparedness and safety for the team, after unidentified snipers opened fire on their convoy on Monday.
This comes after Secretary of State John Kerry said there is "undeniable" evidence of a large-scale chemical weapons attack in Syria, with intelligence strongly pointing to Bashar Assad's regime. Kerry says "this international norm cannot be violated without consequences."
In an overnight news conference, Syria's foreign minister says his country will defend itself using "all means available" in case of a U.S. strike. Walid al-Moallem says Syria has two choices, either to surrender or fight back, and it will choose the latter.