The United States is making plans for a “significantly larger” military strike on Syria than at first envisioned that could include use of long-range bombers making sorties from the United States, US media said.
ABC News reported Thursday that President Barack Obama’s national security team was “preparing for a significantly larger military attack than most had anticipated” that could include attacks by B-2 and B-52 bombers flying from bases in the United States.
The report quoted an unnamed “senior national security official” as saying that such a strike “could do more damage to Assad’s forces in 48 hours than the Syrian rebels have done in nearly two years of civil war.”
Separately, The New York Times said Friday that Obama had ordered military planners to expand the list of potential targets in Syria in response to intelligence showing the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad were moving troops and equipment “used to employ chemical weapons.”
“For the first time, the administration is talking about using American and French aircraft to conduct strikes on specific targets, in addition to ship-launched Tomahawk cruise missiles,” the Times said, adding: “There is a renewed push to get other NATO forces involved.”
Obama, asked at a news conference Friday after the G20 summit in Russia about reports that the United States was planning for broader military action than previously thought, said: “That report is inaccurate.” It was not clear however what report he was referring to.
The Obama administration has asserted that attacks in Syria on Aug. 21 that apparently used chemical weapons were perpetrated by forces loyal to Assad and has argued that a military strike against Assad’s forces is required as a response.
Assad has denied that Syrian troops have used chemical weapons and Russian President Vladimir Putin has stated that the attack last month and another one earlier this year also involving chemical weapons were carried out by anti-Assad rebel forces as a “provocation” to draw Washington into the conflict.
Obama, who announced Saturday he would seek approval from the US Congress for a strike against Syria, has said he wants any military action to be “limited.” Earlier reports said any US action would probably be confined to Tomahawk missile strikes from naval vessels that have been sent to the area. PNA