Hagel: US forces ready to strike Syria if ordered

By: The Associated Press
August 27, 2013 Updated: August 27, 2013 at 8:03 am
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photo - FILE - In this July 31, 2013 file photo, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel pauses during a news conference at the Pentagon in Washington. Hagel is suggesting Friday, Aug. 23, 2013, that the Pentagon is moving naval forces closer to Syria in case President Barack Obama decides to order military strikes. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
FILE - In this July 31, 2013 file photo, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel pauses during a news conference at the Pentagon in Washington. Hagel is suggesting Friday, Aug. 23, 2013, that the Pentagon is moving naval forces closer to Syria in case President Barack Obama decides to order military strikes. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File) 

BANDER SERI BEGAWAN, Brunei — U.S. forces are now ready to act on any order by President Barack Obama to strike Syria, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Tuesday.

The U.S. Navy has four destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean Sea positioned within range of targets inside Syria, as well as U.S. warplanes in the region, Hagel said in an interview with BBC television during his 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 Bashar Assad's government.

"I think it's pretty clear that chemical weapons were used against people in Syria," he said. "I think the intelligence will conclude that it wasn't the (Syria) rebels who used it, and there'll probably be pretty good intelligence to show is that the Syria government was responsible — but we'll allow the time to come together to provide that information."

Obama asked the Pentagon to give him "all options for all contingencies," Hagel said, and "we have done that."

"We are prepared. We have moved assets in place to be able to fulfill and comply with whatever option the president wishes to take," Hagel said.

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