The U.S. military is ready to act if President Barack Obama orders a strike against Syria, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Tuesday.
Here’s the latest:
• White House spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday that “nothing has been decided” yet over how the U.S. will respond to the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria.
“There must be a response. We cannot allow this kind of a violation of an international norm - with all of the intended, grave consequences that it represents – to go unanswered,” Mr. Carney said. But what that response will look like and whether it will include military force, he said, has not yet been determined.
• The White House issued a statement saying that Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Obama spoke by phone Tuesday about the situation in Syria. “The United States and Canada strongly oppose the use of chemical weapons, and the President and Prime Minister pledged to continue to consult closely on potential responses by the international community,” the statement read. Still, Mr. Harper’s spokesperson added Tuesday that it was “premature” to talk about recalling Parliament over the Syria issue.
• Mr. Hagel told the BBC Tuesday that the military has “moved assets in place,” and will be ready to respond if Mr. Obama orders action against Syria. Currently, the U.S. has warplanes in the region, as well as four destroyers in the Mediterranean Sea within range of targets inside Syria.
• U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron recalled Parliament Tuesday for a crisis session on Syria. Mr. Cameron’s office said that lawmakers, who ordinarily would be on summer recess, will convene to vote on a “proportionate” response – including a possible military attack – on Syria. “There’ll be a clear Govt motion & vote on UK response to chemical weapons attacks,” Mr. Cameron tweeted Tuesday.
• Francois Hollande said that France is “ready to punish those who took the decision to gas the innocent.” The French president made the statement to a meeting of dozens of French ambassadors Tuesday, and added that it is the responsibility of the outside world to respond to the alleged attacks.
• The Syrian opposition was told to expect a strike against President Bashar al-Assad’s forces within days, a source who attended the meeting between the Syrian National Coalition and envoys from the ‘Friends of Syria,’ told Reuters. The meeting was attended by 11 ‘Friends of Syria’ members, including U.S. envoy Robert Ford.
• Meanwhile, Syria’s foreign minister Walid al-Moallem called the accusations of chemical weapons “categorically false,” and said that his country would defend itself using “all means available” should the U.S. or any other country attack. Syria has “the means to defend ourselves and we will surprise everyone,” Mr. al-Moallem told reporters Tuesday. He declined to elaborate on what those means might be.
• UN experts delayed their planned second visit to the site of the suspected attack out of fears for their safety. Unidentified snipers opened fire on the UN convoy on Monday, an attack that was blamed by state television on the rebels, while the opposition blamed it on Mr. al-Assad’s regime.
• Witnesses to the alleged chemical attacks described the initial explosions to The New York Times as sounding “like a water tank bursting.” Local doctors and witnesses told the Times that the smell burned the victims’ eyes and throats, and that overwhelmed hospitals quickly ran out of room to store the bodies.
With reports from The Associated Press and Reuters