Obama’s gas barracks in Syria.
« Once we ascertain the facts, the president will make an informed decision about how to respond, » a White House official told CNN Saturday on condition of anonymity.
« We have a range of options available, and we are going to act very deliberately so that we’re making decisions consistent with our national interest as well as our assessment of what can advance our objectives in Syria, » the official added. As is generally known only Israel has an interest in Syria not the U.S.
The Syrian government and the army categorically denied any role in Wednesday’s alleged chemical attack which killed hundreds of people.
Obama has directed the US intelligence agencies to gather information on the incident which he described as a « big event of grave concern. »
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Obama had asked the Pentagon to prepare a range of military options for Syria.
The US Navy repositioned a ship armed with cruise missiles in the Mediterranean on Friday and moved forces closer to Syria in anticipation of a possible order for attack by the president.
Officers at the Pentagon also said they were updating target lists for potential airstrikes on a number of government and military installations in Syria, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The military options being revised at the Pentagon range from possible strikes on Syrian military « delivery capabilities and systems » to command-and-control facilities and artillery batteries, officials said.
Russia, a principal ally of Syria, insists that the chemical attack was « clearly provocative in nature » and that footage posted online seeking to incriminate the Syrian government had been posted before the attack actually took place.
Faced with the possibility of a Russian veto at the United Nations Security Council, Obama’s national security advisers are looking at the air war in Kosovo in the late 1990s as a possible blueprint for strikes on Syria without a UN mandate.
“Kosovo, of course, is a precedent of something that is perhaps similar,” a senior administration official told The New York Times on condition of anonymity when discussing US options for Syria.
President Obama has said he does not anticipate using ground forces in Syria.