Defense Officials Say US Warship On The Move

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WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama has been playing down the prospect of speedy U.S. intervention in Syria, but defense officials are preparing options in response to this week's claims of a large-scale chemical weapons attack near Damascus by Syrian government forces.
    
In an interview with CNN, Obama stressed the difficulty of ordering military action against President Bashar Assad's government without a strong international coalition and a legal mandate from the United Nations.
    
Speaking to reporters on a flight to Asia, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the U.S. is coordinating with the international community to determine "what exactly did happen" in the reported chemical weapon attack and suggested the Pentagon is moving naval forces closer to Syria in preparation for possible strikes.
    
While Hagel declined to discuss any specific force movements, U.S. defense officials say the Navy has moved a fourth warship into the region. U.S. Navy ships are capable of a variety of military action, including launching Tomahawk cruise missiles, as they did against Libya in 2011 as part of an international action that led to the overthrow of the Libyan government.


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