herald

Sunday 22 October 2017

Strike on Syria could be just days away

THE United States and its allies have geared up for a probable military strike against Syria that could come within days and would be the most aggressive action by Western powers in the Middle Eastern nation's two-and-a-half-year civil war.

Western envoys have told the Syrian opposition to expect a military response soon against President Bashar al-Assad's forces as punishment for a chemical weapons attack last Wednesday which killed hundreds in Damascus while they slept, according to sources who attended a meeting with the rebel Syrian National Coalition in Istanbul.

Amid preparations, Australia, a close US ally and incoming chair of the United Nations Security Council today endorsed possible action against Syria, even if the security council fails to agree.

US President Obama – long reluctant to intervene in the Syrian conflict – worked to solidify allied support, including calling the leaders of Britain and Canada.

Top US national security aides gathered to review the situation on Tuesday night in a meeting chaired by Obama's national security adviser Susan Rice, officials said.

Mr Obama has yet to make a final decision on the US response, but officials said Washington was not intent on "regime change", signalling that any military strikes would be limited and not meant to topple Assad.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said any strikes would be "specific" so as not to drag the allies deeper into Syria's civil war.

hnews@herald.ie

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