US Military Weighs Syria Options, Hagel Suggests

The US military is weighing its options in Syria, including possible military strikes in light of the reported chemical weapons attack in the Middle Eastern nation on Thursday.

According to suggestions from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, the Pentagon has moved its naval forces closer to Syria in preparation for a possible strike.

US Navy ships can do several actions, including launching Tomahawk cruise missiles, reports The Boston Globe. And the ships took that action in Libya in 2011 as part of an international effort to overthrow the country’s government.

Hagel declined to give more information about the movements of US forces. However, he did comment that US President Barack Obama has asked the Pentagon to prepare for a possible military intervention in Syria.

The US is apparently coordinating with the international community to determine “what exactly did happen” in the reported chemical weapons attack earlier this week. Like in past attacks, the rebels have blamed the government. However, the government is blaming the rebels for the attack.

CBS News notes that the attack happened in a suburb of Damascus and killed hundreds of people. The attack is bad news, as the US has already warned Syria that chemical weapons use in the two-year-long civil war would be the “red line” for a US response.

While the US has not confirmed that the attack involved chemical weapons, President Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice, commented in a tweet Friday that the incident was an apparent chemical weapons attack.

Launching cruise missiles would be more of a warning act than an attempt to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad. The action wouldn’t put American lives at risk. But it would warn Assad that using chemical weapons is something he cannot get away with doing.

General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is expected to present US military options for Syria in a White House meeting on Saturday. Potential targets for cruise missile strikes include command bunkers and the launchers used to fire chemical weapons.

[Image via Leonard Zhukovsky /]

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