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US strengthens naval force off Syrian coast

US strengthens naval force off Syrian coast
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America is to add a fourth cruise-missile armed destroyer to its sixth fleet squadron in the eastern Mediterranean because of the escalating crisis in Syria. The US defence secretary Chuck Hagel says the deployment was in anticipation of an eventual military intervention.

President Obama is meeting his national security advisors this weekend when Syria will be the subject of discussions. The White House stresses it will be to discuss options, but in an interview with CNN on Friday Obama said that if the use of chemical weapons is confirmed then it would require “all of America’s attention”.

UN inspectors are now on the ground but have not visited any of the sites of alleged chemical attacks. The Syrian government says they are free to go, but cannot guarantee their safety.

A top UN official is this weekend expected to put pressure on the government to do just that, but it is proving difficult to co-ordinate as communication with the Free Syrian Army and jihadist rebels to ensure their safe passage is unreliable.