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U.S. wins Arab League backing as plans emerge for strike against Syria

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US wins Arab backingThe Arab League on Tuesday declared the Syrian regime “fully responsible” for an alleged chemical weapons attack, giving the Obama administration symbolic regional cover to proceed with a punitive offensive that could begin within days.

Two U.S. defense officials, speaking on condition of anonymity so as to discuss sensitive military plans, told McClatchy that military commanders were ready to execute a sea-based strike but were awaiting orders from the White House. The officials said the attack would be carried out exclusively by the four destroyers currently based in the eastern Mediterranean and would not include airstrikes to supplement the expected missile barrage.

U.S. officials emphasized that any military action would be punishment for the Syrian government’s apparent use of chemical weapons, and not an operation to remove President Bashar Assad. That distinction is important to the Obama administration as it searches for a response that deters Assad from chemical warfare but doesn’t drag the United States into a devastating conflict that’sU.S. officials emphasized that any military action would be punishment for the Syrian government’s apparent use of chemical weapons, and not an operation to remove President Bashar Assad.

That distinction is important to the Obama administration as it searches for a response that deters Assad from chemical warfare but doesn’t drag the United States into a devastating conflict that’s already spilling across borders and inflaming the Middle East.

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