Western allies say they are ready to launch military strikes against Syria within hours. US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel has said that US forces in the region are “ready to go.”
President Obama has yet to make a decision on armed intervention amid calls for him to seek legitimacy from Congress before US forces act.
Officials say that any action will be short, sharp and targeted: designed to punish the Assad regime for the alleged use of chemical weapons against its own people.
Russia opposes any strikes against Syria saying a successful military intervention will be followed by chaos.
The Arab League appears to be on the side of the “coalition of the willing “ after it blamed Damascus for the nerve gas attack.
Contingency plans for intervention against Assad have been discussed by top generals from the US, Europe and the Middle East in Jordan on Monday.
The US has raised the number of cruise missile carrying destroyers in the Mediterranean and the aircraft carrier Harry S Truman is in the Red Sea.
Britain has an attack submarine in the Mediterranean and aircraft ready to back up any assault.
The French carrier Charles De Gaulle in the port of Toulon has undergone a refit and is ready to set sail for the area.
French mirage aircraft are on standby in the United Arab Emirates and the US has bolstered its airbase in Turkey.
The leaders of the United States, Britain and France still face tough domestic opposition to military intervention at a time when the global economy continues to struggle and the electorate fears the consequences of further conflict.