With John Kerry blasting the "screaming" evidence of a chemical weapons attack in Syria, the Obama administration is moving closer to launching a military strike on the country. On Saturday, President Obama held a three-hour meeting with his national security team on the issue, and CBS News last night shared three notable details by way of sources: There was absolutely no questioning the use of force, Obama wants the public to see a declassified report backing a potential military move before that force is used (CBS says it could be out today or tomorrow), and the president has ordered the presentation of legal justifications for a strike. Chuck Hagel, for his part, tells the BBC that the military is "ready to go" and prepped to "comply with whatever option the president wishes to take."
A US strike would likely last two days at the most; Washington would likely use cruise missiles or long-range bombers aimed at military targets—though not ones directly linked to chemical weapons, the Washington Post reports. (Time reports that US officials have suggested they'll likely aim for artillery, missile launchers, and other weapons with the potential to launch chemical agents.) Four warships, as well as a British submarine, are said to be at the ready in the Mediterranean, CBS notes, adding that an attack would probably occur at night, minimizing civilian casualties. Meanwhile:
- The regime says claims it used chemical weapons are "utterly and completely" off the mark, and is calling on the US to reveal evidence to the contrary, the Guardian notes in a liveblog. "There is no country in the world that uses a weapon of ultimate destruction against its own people," says Syria's foreign minister, per the BBC.
- The UK is also considering possible military action, and British lawmakers have been called back from vacation to address the situation, CNN notes. Tweets David Cameron: "Speaker agrees my request to recall Parliament on Thurs. There'll be a clear Govt motion & vote on UK response to chemical weapons attacks."
- Russia and China are warning against any military strike by the US and allies, the BBC reports. Such a move would bring "new suffering in Syria and catastrophic consequences for other countries of the Middle East and North Africa," says a rep for Moscow's foreign ministry.
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