The UN Security Council is set for a showdown over Syria later on Wednesday.
British Prime Minister David Cameron has drafted a resolution to present to the UN. However it seems certain to be vetoed by Russia and probably China.
Britain, like the US, has warships in the Mediterranean. It also has an air base on Cyprus, 200 kilometres from the Syrian coast.
Cameron spoke to US President Barack Obama on the phone on Tuesday night, a spokesman from his office confirmed, saying both men had agreed there was “no doubt” that the Syrian government had been behind last week’s alleged chemical attack.
Western powers are considering military action to punish Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad for the alleged attack that killed hundreds near Damascus.
The French parliament will meet to discuss the situation later on Wednesday.
Other countries have voiced their opposition to any intervention. Ali Larijani, Iran’s parliament speaker said: “The result of such an unwise move will be regional chaos and the fire will engulf the credulous countries of the region.”
Iran is concerned that if Assad were overthrown, he would be replaced by either allies of the West or by radical Sunni Islamists tied to Saudi Arabia, both regarded as hostile by Shi’ite Iran. Syria is also a conduit for Iranian supplies to Shi’ite Hezbollah militants in Lebanon.
Meanwhile, Israeli media reports that Syrian officials are threatening retaliation against Israel for any Western attack. Israel is deploying all of its missile defences as a precaution.
Syria has long demanded an Israeli withdrawal from the strategic Golan Heights – land that Israel captured in the 1967 war.