- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The United States does not need the permission of the United Nations or any other international body for a military strike against Syria to retaliate for its use of chemical weapons against civilians, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Tuesday.

“No nation, no group of nations is bound by only one dimension of whether they’d make a decision to respond to any self-defense or any other violation of the kind of humanitarian violations that we saw in Syria,” he told the BBC.

However, he added that the U.S. and its partners were “working with” the United Nations over the crisis in Syria.

Mr. Hagel, who is meeting with Asian defense ministers in Brunei, spoke via phone with French Minister of Defense Jean-Yves Le Drian and Britain’s secretary of state for defense, Phillip Hammond.

“In the conversations, Secretary Hagel conveyed that the United States is committed to working with the international community to respond to the outrageous chemical attacks that have claimed the lives of innocent civilians in Syria,” a Pentagon statement said.

“He condemned the violence carried out by the Syrian regime and stated that the United States military is prepared for any contingency involving Syria. Finally, Secretary Hagel pledged to continue close coordination with the British and French defense forces,” it said.

The Obama administration is expected to release a report as early as Tuesday, showing evidence that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against its people during an attack last week, according to Defense One.

“I think it’s pretty clear that chemical weapons were used against people in Syria,” Mr. Hagel told the BBC. “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.”

In another development, 66 former U.S. officials and foreign policy experts from the conservative think-tank Foreign Policy Initiative penned a letter urging President Obama to direct air strikes against the Syrian regime’s military assets, along with accelerated efforts to vet, train and arm moderate elements of Syria’s internal opposition.

“Left unanswered, the Assad regime’s mounting attacks with chemical weapons will show the world that America’s red lines are only empty threats,” they said.

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