Syria strike due in days, West tells opposition: Sources
AMMAN - Reuters
An image grab taken from a video shows opposition fighter holding a rocket propelled grenade (RPG) as his fellow comrades take cover from an attack by regime forces on August 26, 2013. AFP PHOTO / SALAH AL-ASHKARWestern powers told the Syrian opposition to expect a strike against President Bashar al-Assad's forces within days, according to sources who attended a meeting between envoys and the Syrian National Coalition in Istanbul.
"The opposition was told in clear terms that action to deter further use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime could come as early as in the next few days, and that they should still prepare for peace talks at Geneva," one of the sources who was at the meeting on Monday told Reuters.
The meeting at a hotel in downtown Istanbul was between senior figures of the Syrian National Coalition, including its president Ahmad Jarba, and envoys from 11 core "Friends of Syria" alliance members, that included U.S. envoy Robert Ford, the top U.S. official handling the Syria file, the sources said.
Facing Russian and Chinese disapproval that could dampen prospects for proposed peace talks in Geneva, Assad's foes have vowed to punish a poison gas attack in some rebel-held districts of Damascus on Aug. 21 that killed hundreds.
U.N. experts trying to establish what exactly happened in the attack were finally able to cross the frontline on Monday to see survivors - despite being shot at in government-held territory. But they put off a second visit until Wednesday.
US could hit Syria by Thursday
Meanwhile, the NBC News cited senior U.S. officials saying that the United States could hit Syria with three days of missile strikes, perhaps beginning Aug. 29.
The military strike would primarily be designed to send a message to the Syrian regime rather than cripple its military, senior U.S. officials told NBC News on Aug. 27.
In three days of strikes, the Pentagon could assess the effectiveness of the first wave and target what was missed in further rounds, the senior officials also said.