Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei – While traveling in Southeast Asia today (August 27), Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke by phone with British Defense Secretary Phillip Hammond and French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian about chemical attacks that have killed innocent civilians in Syria.
In a summary of the conversations, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said Hagel conveyed that the United States is committed to working with the international community to respond to the “outrageous” attacks.
The secretary condemned the violence carried out by the Syrian regime and said the United States military is prepared for any contingency involving Syria, Little said, adding that Hagel pledged to continue close coordination with the British and French defense forces.
“Syria used chemical weapons against its own people,” Hagel said during an interview here this afternoon with Jon Sopel of “BBC World News.” “Now, we’ll have more information and more intelligence here vey shortly to present,” the secretary said.
Most US allies, most US partners and most of the international community have little doubt that the most basic international humanitarian standard was violated by the Syrian regime in using chemical weapons against its own people, Hagel said.
“The deeper we get into this, it seems to me it’s clearer and clearer that the government of Syria was responsible,” he added. “But we’ll wait and determine what the intelligence and the facts bear out.”
The secretary said President Barack Obama has asked the Defense Department for options for all contingencies, and the department has complied.
“We have done that,” Hagel said. “He has seen them, we are prepared, [and] we have moved assets in place to be able to fulfill and comply with whatever option the president wishes to take. We are ready to go.”