Hagel: US forces ready to strike Syria

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) - 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.

He declined to elaborate or say to what specific means he was referring.

Al-Moallem spoke at a press conference in the Syrian capital Tuesday amid growing international support for military action against Syria in response to what U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said was "undeniable" evidence of a large-scale chemical attack likely launched by Damascus.

Al-Moallem challenged anyone accusing the Syrian regime of using chemical weapons to provide proof.

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Hagel: US forces ready to strike Syria if ordered
 
By ROBERT BURNS 
AP National Security Writer
 
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 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.
 

He called it "pretty good intelligence."

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The Arab League has blamed the Syrian government for last week's alleged chemical weapons attack near Damascus that killed hundreds, calling for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.

In an emergency meeting held Tuesday, the Arab League also called on members of the U.N. Security Council to overcome their differences and agree on "deterrent" measures against those who committed "this heinous crime." The League said it will convene a meeting at the ministerial level next week to follow up on the situation in Syria.

The Syrian government has denied it was behind the attack. The U.S said it is ready for military action if evidence is conclusive that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons.
 

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UN: Experts delay trip to Damascus suburb by 1 day
 
By ALBERT AJI
Associated Press
 
DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) -- The United Nations says that a team of chemical weapons experts in Syria 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.
 
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said at a press conference earlier that Tuesday's trip was postponed because of disputes between rebel groups.
 
The U.N. statement only mentioned security precautions.

It urged all sides in the conflict to give safe passage and access to the team, adding it was in the interest of all sides to cooperate with the investigation.

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Britain recalls Parliament to discuss Syria
 
By GREGORY KATZ
Associated Press
 
LONDON (AP) -- 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.
 
Legislators had been urging Cameron to consult Parliament before any possible action against Syria.
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