A US strike on Syria appeared increasingly likely as world leaders held consultations and several said they are in position for a strike that could come as early as Thursday. British Prime Minister David Cameron said Parliament would hold an emergency vote Thursday on Britain’s response. US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said US military forces are ready to strike as soon as they are given as order.
In the Middle East, the Arab League blamed the Syrian government for the alleged chemical weapons attack last week that killed hundreds of Syrian civilians, and called for those responsible to be brought to justice.
United Nations officials were set to make a second visit to the site of the attack outside Damascus to try to verify exactly which chemical agents were used, although most analysts believe it was sarin nerve gas.
In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held an emergency meeting of his inner cabinet today. The Iranian Fars news agency quoted a senior Syrian army official threatening an attack on Israel if the US strikes Syria.
“If Damascus is attacked, Tel Aviv will become a target and a full-scale war against Syria will essentially justify an attack against Israel,” the un-named official was quoting as saying. Israeli officials believe the chance of a Syrian attack on Israel is not high, but have beefed up defenses along the border. Thousands of Israelis have also flocked to gas mask distribution centers, although less than half of the population still has gas masks.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Israel would respond harshly if attacked. “We are prepared for any scenario,” Netanyahu said. “We are not part of the civil war in Syria, but if we identify any attempt to harm us, we will respond – and respond forcefully.”