Pentagon moves forces into place, Obama still undecided on Syria action
US naval forces today moved closer to Syria as President Barack Obama met his national security team, to discuss a response to the alleged use of chemical weapons in the Arab country earlier this week.world Updated: Aug 25, 2013 00:27 IST
US naval forces moved closer to Syria on Saturday as President Barack Obama met his national security team, to discuss a response to the alleged use of chemical weapons in the Arab country earlier this week.
Obama's meeting came as Secretary of State John Kerry reached out to world leaders and the Pentagon moved its naval military assets near Syria.
"As we have previously stated, the president has directed the intelligence community to gather facts and evidence so that we can determine what occurred in Syria," the White House official said.
"Once we ascertain the facts, the president will make an informed decision about how to respond."
The official said the US has "a range of options available" and would "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".
On his way to Malaysia, defense secretary Chuck Hagel told reporters that he spent a good amount of time on a video teleconference with the president's senior national security advisers.
"I'll continue to be closely connected and involved with the president's national security advisers on this issue," he said.
The defence department has a responsibility to provide the president with options for all contingencies, Hagel said.
"That requires positioning our forces, positioning our assets to be able to carry out different options, whatever options the president might choose," he said.
Syrian rebels have accused the regime of president Bashar al-Assad of using chemical weapons near Damascus on Wednesday.
The attack allegedly left more than 1,300 people dead, the rebels said.
However, the Syrian regime denied the claim and blamed the insurgents for carrying out attacks with chemical weapons.
"An army unit is surrounding a sector of Jobar where terrorists used chemical weapons," said the Syrian state broadcaster, adding soldiers who tried to enter the area had "suffocated".