Washington (CNN) — With a flurry of diplomatic signals and activity, U.S. officials sought Tuesday to lay the groundwork for a possible military attack on Syria in response to last week’s suspected chemical weapons attack that Washington blames on President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Secretary of State John Kerry both consulted allies and indicated potential imminent action by a coalition likely to include key NATO partners and regional powers.
Days after the United States moved warships armed with cruise missiles into the region, Hagel told the BBC on Tuesday that forces were ready to carry out a strike if ordered. A senior Defense Department official told CNN that any strike could be completed “within several days.”
“We are ready to go, like that,” Hagel told the BBC reporter.
“The options are there, the United States department of Defense is ready to carry out those options,” the U.S. defense secretary said.