A top Iranian military chief warned on Sunday that the U.S. will face “harsh consequences” if it intervenes in Syria over claims of chemical attacks, reported Agence France Presse citing a Fars new agency report.
“If the United States crosses this red line, there will be harsh consequences for the White House,” armed forces deputy chief of staff Massoud Jazayeri was quoted as saying.
A year ago, U.S. President Barack Obama warned the use of chemical weapons in Syria would cross a “red line” and have “enormous consequences.”
On Sunday, his Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said the U.S. military was ready to take action against Syria.
"President Obama has asked the Defence Department to prepare options for all contingencies. We have done that," Hagel told reporters in Malaysia.
"Again, we are prepared to exercise whatever option, if he decides to employ one of those options," he said, a day after Obama held a rare meeting his top aides and brass to discuss Syria.
Secretary of State John Kerry has also been involved in talks with U.S. allies in Europe and the Middle East.
Julian Zelizer, a Princeton University foreign policy historian, believes Obama is yet to sign off on military force.
But he said the administration clearly “feels pressure to do something, or to look like it is preparing to respond, for political reasons, (and to show Syria) that there are boundaries to what is permissible.”
Obama aides caution that no decisions have been finalized, and the U.S. decision depends on definitive proof that Syrian forces strafed a rebel-held Damascus suburb with chemical arms and killed 1,300 people.
However the White House has offered credence to reports of a chemical weapons attack in a statement on Saturday’s meeting, noting “contemporaneous witness accounts and (a) record of the symptoms of those killed.”
Foes of the Damascus regime say Syrian forces unleashed a chemical attack Wednesday on areas southwest and east of the capital, killing hundreds of people.
The regime of President Bashar al-Assad counters the accusations, saying instead that rebel fighters have used chemical weapons in the 29-month conflict.