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US signals its readiness to act in Syria

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US signals its readiness to act in Syria
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With the government and the rebels continuing to accuse each other of using chemical weapons in Syria, opposition forces claim to have received a 400- tonne delivery of arms from supporters in the Middle East.

The consignment – mostly ammunition for shoulder-fired weapons and anti-aircraft machine guns – came into northern Syria via the Turkish province of Hatay in the past 24 hours, and was already being handed out, according to the opposition.

Syrian state television is still reporting on the army’s discovery in Jobar of toxic agents belonging to the rebels on Saturday.

Describing what happened to those who found the chemical weapons, one soldier told a reporter: “These soldiers were seen having difficulty breathing and experienced swollen tonsils and a burning sensation in their eyes. After examining them, we saw a contraction of their pupils and their heartbeats slowing down.”

International aid organisation Médecins Sans Frontières says Damascus hospitals have treated patients with “neurotoxic symptoms”.

President Bashar al-Assad and Syria’s minority Alawite community have been threatened by the head of the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front. In a recording posted on Youtube, Abu Mohammad al-Golani said the attacks would be retribution for the government’s use of chemical weapons.

At a press conference in Malaysia, US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel outlined America’s readiness to intervene.

“President Obama has asked the Defence Department to prepare options for all contingencies, we have done that and, again, we are prepared to exercise whatever options, if he decides to employ one of the options,” said Hagel.

Britain and the US have threatened a “serious response” if it is confirmed that the Syrian government used chemical agents.

Politicians from the West and Muslim countries will meet in Jordan to discuss the crisis in Syria. Representatives from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Canada will attend the summit over the coming days.