U.S. Navy sends fifth destroyer closer to Syria

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The U.S. Navy has sent a fifth destroyer closer to Syria, a defense official told AFP on Thursday, as expectations grow of an imminent strike on the regime of President Bashar al-Assad there.

The USS Stout, a guided missile destroyer, is "in the Mediterranean, heading and moving east" to relieve the USS Mahan, said the official, who said both ships might remain in place for the time being.

President Barack Obama has made the case for a limited military strike on Syria, but some U.S. lawmakers say they have not been properly consulted.

Obama’s security adviser Susan Rice, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Secretary of State John Kerry and director of national intelligence James Clapper will brief members of Congress on Thursday about the plans for Syria, a congressional aide told Reuters.

Infographic: Ready, set, strike

Infographic: Ready, set, strike (Design by Farwa Rizwan / Al Arabiya English)
Infographic: Ready, set, strike (Design by Farwa Rizwan / Al Arabiya English)

Obama said on Wednesday that he received military options against Syria but he has not made a decision yet.

Obama noted that the use of chemical weapons in Syrian affects U.S. national interests and that goal of a limited military action would be to deter future use of chemical weapons.

“If we are saying in a clear and decisive but very limited way, we send a shot across the bow saying, stop doing this, this can have a positive impact on our national security over the long term,” he told Public Broadcasting Service in a televised interview.

The president said U.S. officials believe the Syrian government is responsible for the attack a week ago in the suburbs of Damascus that killed hundreds of people, and do not believe the Syrian opposition has chemical weapons that could have been used on that scale, Reuters reported.

In Iran, the Revolutionary Guard force has reportedly began sending mobile text messages to people vowing to defend Syria against any U.S.-led military action. The mobile messages, signed by Qasem Soleimani, the commander of the Qods Force, refer to a Western attack on Syria as a “red line.”

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