News / Middle East

Hagel: US Weighs Military Options for Syria

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel speaks during a news conference at the Pentagon, in Arlington, Virginia, July 31, 2013.Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel speaks during a news conference at the Pentagon, in Arlington, Virginia, July 31, 2013.
x
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel speaks during a news conference at the Pentagon, in Arlington, Virginia, July 31, 2013.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel speaks during a news conference at the Pentagon, in Arlington, Virginia, July 31, 2013.
VOA News
The U.S. defense secretary has strongly suggested that the U.S. is moving naval forces into place in anticipation of any decision by President Barack Obama to order military action on Syria after apparent chemical weapons use.

Chuck Hagel told reporters traveling to Malaysia with him Friday Obama has asked the Defense Department for a range of options if he chooses to launch an attack on the Damascus government.

Hagel's comments came after a defense official said the Navy would expand its presence in the Mediterranean with a fourth warship armed with cruise missiles.

The U.S. Sixth Fleet, with responsibility in the Mediterranean, is keeping the USS Mahan in the region with other destroyers instead of letting it return to its home port in Norfolk, Virginia.  

However, U.S. defense officials say the Navy has not received any orders to prepare for any military operations against the Assad government.

Angela Kane, the U.N. High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, arrived in Damascus Saturday to push for access to the suspected chemical weapons attack site.

A citizen journalism image provided by the Local Committee of Arbeen shows Syrian citizens trying to identify dead bodies, after an alleged poison gas attack by government forces.A citizen journalism image provided by the Local Committee of Arbeen shows Syrian citizens trying to identify dead bodies, after an alleged poison gas attack by government forces.
x
A citizen journalism image provided by the Local Committee of Arbeen shows Syrian citizens trying to identify dead bodies, after an alleged poison gas attack by government forces.
A citizen journalism image provided by the Local Committee of Arbeen shows Syrian citizens trying to identify dead bodies, after an alleged poison gas attack by government forces.
​Russia and China are joining international calls for an investigation into an alleged poison gas attack in a suburb of Syria's capital, as President Obama said the reported incident is of "grave concern."

Russia's Foreign Ministry Friday said claims by Syria's opposition that hundreds died in a poisonous gas attack several days ago should undergo an objective investigation, and it called on Syria to cooperate.

Moscow also called on rebel forces to guarantee safe passage for U.N. investigators who are already in the country looking into previous allegations of chemical use. The ministry released the statement following a call between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

The United States has been pushing for a U.N.-led investigation.  Obama told CNN that officials are still gathering information but called the reported attack a matter of "grave concern."

"We're still gathering information about this particular event, but it is very troublesome," he said.

But Obama also told CNN the idea that the U.S. can just go in and solve the problems in Syria is "overstated."

"We have to think through strategically what's going to be in our long-term national interests," he said.

China's Foreign Ministry Friday also backed calls for a U.N. investigation, with a spokesman telling the state-run Xinhua news agency that China "resolutely opposes" the use of chemical weapons no matter which side is responsible.

Syrian opposition leaders and activists have released video of scores of adults and children lying dead on the ground without signs of injury. Neither the number of people killed nor the cause of death could be independently confirmed.

The Syrian government denies the allegations.

On Friday, British Foreign Secretary William Hague called a chemical weapon attack "the only possible explanation" and placed the blame on the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.  

"I know some people in the world would like to say that this is some kind of conspiracy brought about by the opposition in Syria, I think the chances of that are vanishingly small," he said. "And so we do believe this is a chemical attack by the Assad regime on a large scale, but we would like the United Nations to be able to assess that, so for those who don't believe that, for those who doubt that, the evidence can be gathered, but that is certainly our opinion."

Despite backing calls for an immediate investigation, Russia is not convinced the government is responsible.  Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich on Friday raised suspicions about the motives of the Syrian opposition.

"Moscow continues to follow closely developments over the alleged chemical weapons attack near Damascus," he said. "There is more and more new evidence that this criminal action was provocative. In particular, there are reports on the Internet saying that the details of the incident with accuses of government forces appeared online a few hours before the so-called attack. Therefore, we are talking about a pre-planned action."

Still, the former top U.S. weapons investigator for Iraq, Charles Duelfer, disagrees and says it appears the videos are genuine.

"This is quite powerful and it's clearly something that hasn't been faked. I mean, these are real people," he said. "You couldn't create this, much to the - I know there are some international parties that say, well, this could be something created, a 'provocation', in the words of the Russian foreign minister. That's not a convincing position."

Duelfer says, as a result, the U.N. personnel already in Syria and awaiting access to the site will be under enormous pressure.

"In essence they've got their finger on the trigger of the international community where military force can be unleashed," he added.

The United Nations has formally asked Syria to let U.N. personnel "swiftly investigate" the scene.  U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said that any use of chemical weapons in Syria would amount to a "crime against humanity" that would result in "serious consequences."  

Assad's government has consistently denied using chemical weapons. It has accused the opposition of using chemical weapons earlier this year near Aleppo. The U.N. team already on the ground in Syria was sent to investigate those claims.

You May Like

Multimedia US Nurse ‘Cured of Ebola,’ NIH Says

Nina Pham, Texas nurse who treated first Ebola patient in US, received no experimental drugs; WHO expects vaccine surge in 2015 More

Video Islamic State Militants Encroach on Baghdad

Iraqi capital not under ‘imminent threat,’ US military says, amid worries about foothold More

Video Hong Kong Protesters Focus on Holding Volatile Mong Kok

Activists say holding Mong Kok is key to their movement's success, despite confrontations with angry residents and police More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: hallofrecord from: Michigan
August 24, 2013 10:59 AM
Stopping the use of chemical weapons which are indiscriminate in their killing is the civilized approach to war. Stopping the use of bombs which are indiscriminate in their killing is the civilized approach to war. Wait, I didn't mean to go that far. We can't make war too civilized.


by: Michael from: USA
August 24, 2013 10:28 AM
The United Nations seeks to sort through evidence as if in a criminal investigation, which it is, but whatever evidence comes to the attention of the world will be only the first step in explaining it, as the article points out, conspiracy theories; but criminal investigations do not work when dealing with nations and countries because of the whole framework of diplomacy


by: jerry800826 from: china
August 24, 2013 8:50 AM
if rebel forces use chemical weapons,will the us launch an attack on them?usa bias for rebel forces

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid