Syria: US assault 'ready to go' as PM recalls parliament
Rebels say US intervention may come 'within days' but Russia warns of 'catastrophic' result
THE US has signalled it is "ready to go" if the White House gives the all-clear to military intervention in Syria.
"We have moved assets in place to be able to fulfil and comply with whatever option the president wishes to take," the US defence secretary Chuck Hagel told the BBC today.
His comments came as David Cameron returned to No. 10 to discuss contingency plans. The PM recalled parliament and promised MPs they would vote on a "clear government motion" when they met on Thursday.
Meanwhile, envoys from the US and its allies have told rebels fighting the Syrian government that Western forces could attack targets inside Syria "within days", reports Reuters. In return, the rebels have drawn up a list of potential targets within Syria.
As the US and Britain appeared to move several steps closer to a military intervention, Syria’s closest allies issued stern warnings against an assault. The Kremlin said any action against the regime of president Bashar al-Assad would have "catastrophic consequences" for the region.
A spokesman for Iran’s foreign ministry told The Guardian it was resolved to defend the Assad regime.
"We want to strongly warn against any military attack in Syria," he said. "There will definitely be perilous consequences for the region. These complications and consequences will not be restricted to Syria. It will engulf the whole region."
Hagel echoed the sentiments of US secretary of state John Kerry who has said there is "undeniable" evidence of a large-scale chemical weapons attack and the likely perpetrator is the Assad regime.
"I think it is pretty clear chemical weapons were used against people in Syria," said the US defence secretary. "I think the intelligence will conclude it was not the rebels who used it. The deeper we get into this, it is becoming clearer and clearer the Government of Syria was responsible."
The remarks suggest the US may not wait for the results of a UN inspection of the site of the 21 August attack, about 12 miles from the Syrian capital, Damascus. The inspectors continued their work today collecting tissue and blood samples from those affected. ·