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U.S. MILITARY STRIKE ON SYRIA: 'We're ready to go,' Hagel says

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
August 27th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

U.S. military officials are busy planning for a possible military strike on Syria. A suspected chemical weapons attack by the Bashar al-Assad regime poses a significant security threat to the United States, and a response is needed, all U.S. officials agree. 

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Seeking legal justification, White House spokesman Jay Carney reiterated that President Barack Obama had yet to make a final decision on a proper U.S. response. Officials have declared that the recent attack in Syria is the worst the world has ever seen since former Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein launched a poison gas attack that killed thousands of Kurds in 1988.

Carney told reporters that "nothing has been decided," but assured that some sort of response will come.

"Allowing the use of chemical weapons on a significant scale to take place without a response would present a significant challenge to or threat to the United States' national security," he said.

Vice President Joe Biden told the American Legion that "there is no doubt who is responsible for the heinous use of chemical weapons -- the Syrian regime."

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Secretary of State John Kerry consulted allies and indicated potential imminent action by a coalition likely to include key NATO partners and regional powers.

Hagel told the British press that forces were ready to carry out a strike if ordered. A senior Defense Department official told CNN that any strike could be completed "within several days."

"We are ready to go, like that," Hagel told the BBC, adding that "the options are there, the United States Department of Defense is ready to carry out those options."

Options that are available to President Obama range from ordering limited missile strikes to continued diplomatic efforts labeled by critics as a "do-nothing" approach.

Ground troops to Syria have been ruled out; so is implementing a no-fly zone to blunt al-Assad's aerial superiority over rebels fighting to oust his regime.

Carney said that the first step toward a military response in Syria would be the public release of a U.S. intelligence report on the August 21 event near Damascus that reportedly killed and wounded thousands.

Another unnamed official says the intelligence report would include forensic evidence and intercepted communications among Syrian military commanders.

Carney said Tuesday there was "no doubt" in the administration that chemical weapons were used by the al-Assad government, telling reporters that "we see no evidence of any alternative scenario."

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