CBS' Charlie Kaye, along with multiple Friday evening sources, reports that the United States Navy has moved vessels into range for cruise missile strikes on Syrian government installations.
BREAKING. @CBSNews has learned that the Pentagon is making the initial preparations for a Cruise missile attack on Syrian government forces— Charlie Kaye (@CharlieKayeCBS) August 23, 2013
BREAKING. @CBSDavidMartin: US naval commander orders warships to move closer to Syria to be ready for possible Cruise missile strike.— Charlie Kaye (@CharlieKayeCBS) August 23, 2013
More from @CBSDavidMartin: Joint Chiefs Chair GEN Martin Dempsey expected to present options for Syria strike at White House mtg tomorrow.— Charlie Kaye (@CharlieKayeCBS) August 23, 2013
According to a later Reuters report, the U.S.S. Mahan, armed with cruise missiles, is remaining in range of the country. But the anonymous source quoted by Reuters stressed that no naval military operations had been approved for Syria. The AP reports that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel suggested on Friday that the military was positioning itself for a possible decision by President Obama to pursue military options in Syria.
The reports follow an earlier report from NBC News, indicating that the Obama administration was considering responses to Syria after believing that chemical weapons were used in the country this week. That report quoted an anonymous official who referred to the possibility of "limited airstrikes" against Syria:
"If the president wants to send a message" — most likely with limited airstrikes against a few targets — "we're good at sending messages," one official said. But if the White House wants to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad, "We're not able to do that" without a long-term military commitment, the official said.
The planned Saturday meeting, NBC explains, is a follow-up to an inconclusive meeting on Thursday with Obama's top advisors.