US weighs military options for Syria: Hagel

Published Aug 24, 2013 08:00am
US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel. — File Photo by AP
US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel. — File Photo by AP

ABOARD A US MILITARY AIRCRAFT: The Pentagon is moving forces into place in case President Barack Obama opts for military action against Syria, US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel suggested Friday.

Amid calls for military intervention after the Syrian regime carried out an alleged chemical weapons attack this week, US commanders have prepared a range of “options” for Obama if he chooses to launch an attack on the Damascus regime, Hagel told reporters aboard his plane en route to Malaysia.

But he declined to provide any details on the positioning of US troops and assets amid escalation in the Syrian civil war.

“The Defence Department has a responsibility to provide the president with options for all contingencies,” Hagel said.

He spoke as a defence official said the US Navy will expand its presence in the Mediterranean with a fourth warship armed with cruise missiles.

The US Sixth Fleet, with responsibility in the Mediterranean, has decided to keep the USS Mahan in the region instead of letting it return to its home port in Norfolk, Virginia.

Three other destroyers are currently deployed in the region — the USS Gravely, USS Barry and USS Ramage. All four warships are equipped with several dozen Tomahawk cruise missiles.

The reinforcement allows the Pentagon to act more rapidly if Obama orders a military strike.

“The president has asked the Defence Department for options. Like always, the Defence Department is prepared and has been prepared to provide all options for all contingencies to the president of the United States,” Hagel said.

The Pentagon chief and other defense officials made clear no decision had been taken on whether to employ military force against President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

US newspapers have suggested disagreements within the administration over the risks of another American military intervention in the Middle East.

Hagel, who visited US Marines in Hawaii on Thursday before setting off on a week-long tour of Southeast Asia, said he expected American intelligence agencies to “swiftly” assess whether the Syrian government indeed used chemical weapons.

He said the US government would work closely with its allies.

“The international community should and will act in concert on these kinds of issues,” Hagel said.


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Comments (6) Closed


Gerry D'Cunha
Aug 24, 2013 03:12pm

so now is the time for the religious parties to wake-up in pakistan for fridays demonstrations when USA intervenes in syria, all this while the religious parties were sleeping when the people of syria were suffering - hyprocrates!!!!

Yousuf Hussain
Aug 24, 2013 03:17pm

Hi,

I wonder why should Dawn get the biased news from AFP (French Press) regarding Syria's war. Dawn should get the news from unbiased sources or report it by themselves if possible.

Jamshed Khan
Aug 24, 2013 05:01pm

Does it not seem a bit strange that the Syrian govt would use chemical weapons while being visited by UN inspectors? Does it not seem a drama and excuse to take military action against Syria? First, the facts on ground have to established as to who used these weapons - govt, rebel terrorist, or some outside forces with grave interest in toppling the Asad govt.

Khaqan
Aug 24, 2013 06:30pm

Terrible to see the international community stay on the sidelines as Syrians get butchered. I wonder what is OIC doing?

-Khaqan

Joker
Aug 24, 2013 09:21pm

America, What are you waiting for ? Go ahead. Do Iraq in Syria.

dumbell
Aug 25, 2013 06:16pm

Hagel, Do Iraq in Syria now.