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US to share evidence that Syria used chemical weapons

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The United States will soon share evidence that Syria unleashed chemical weapons on its own people, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told the BBC on Tuesday.

The Pentagon chief, on a tour of Southeast Asia, reiterated that US forces stood ready to act at a moment's notice, amid mounting speculation the United States, France and Britain are poised to stage military action against the Syrian regime.

"Syria used chemical weapons against its own people," Hagel said in the interview.

"Now, we'll have more information and more intelligence here very shortly to present. I think the Secretary (of State John Kerry) noted that yesterday," he said in Brunei, where is attending a gathering of regional defence ministers.

After speaking to his British and French counterparts earlier Tuesday, Hagel said US allies and most of the world believed President Bashar al-Assad's regime was behind the deadly chemical weapons attack last week on the outskirts of Damascus.

"I think most of our allies, most of our partners, most of the international community that we've talked (to) -- and we have reached out to many -- have little doubt that the most base, human, international humanitarian standard was violated in using chemical weapons against their own people," he said.

He said there was no longer a question about who staged the chemical assault, which the opposition says killed 1,300 people.

"I think the intelligence will conclude that it wasn't the rebels who used it, and there'll probably be pretty good intelligence to show ...that the Syria government was responsible," he said.

Hagel's comments reflected increasingly hawkish rhetoric from President Barack Obama's administration, which had previously sought to avoid being drawn into the Syrian conflict.

The Pentagon chief said the US military was prepared to take action if called upon and Obama had reviewed options presented to him by commanders.

"We are prepared. We have moved assets in place to be able to fulfill and comply with whatever option the president wishes to take," he said.

"We are ready to go, like that."

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130827/us-share-evidence-syria-used-chemical-weapons