Syria anticipates a US military attack "at any moment," a security
official is quoted as telling AFP on Saturday, just hours after UN
investigators probing an alleged chemical weapons attack by
pro-government forces left the country.
"We are expecting an
attack at any moment. We are ready to retaliate at any moment," said the
Syrian security official, who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity.
With international debate raging over the proper response to President Bashar Assad's purported use of chemical weapons against innocent civilians near Damascus 10 days ago, a US-led assault on Syria is just hours away, Arab media sources said over the weekend.
According to Israel Radio, the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Qabas quoted diplomatic sources in the Gulf on Saturday as saying that Washington will launch strikes against Syria either Saturday or Sunday from a number of bases, including those in Turkey, Cyprus and Greece.
The diplomats quoted in the article said that the Americans are waiting for United Nations inspectors to wrap up their investigation of the alleged attack before giving the go-ahead to strike.
The team of inspectors arrived at Beirut International Airport on Saturday, a Reuters witness said.
The team had crossed the land border from Syria into Lebanon earlier in the day after completing its four-day investigation.
In a sign that the government is growing more convinced that an American attack is imminent, Syrian propaganda authorities have instructed the various television stations in the country to begin broadcasting special "war programming" in a bid to raise morale among troops, Israel Radio reported.
According to the report, all of the country's television channels were told on Saturday morning to merge their broadcasts into one and flash images of a more patriotic nature.
Another Kuwaiti daily, Al-Rai, cites sources as indicating that Assad has instructed his armed forces to use all means necessary – including chemical arms – if and when his country comes under attack. The news item was posted on Israel Radio's website and first reported by its Arab language correspondent.
Meanwhile, Iran continues to bolster its ally, the Assad government, in its quest to squash a rebel-led campaign to unseat it. According to Israel Radio, the BBC reported that the chairman of the Iranian parliament's foreign affairs and defense committee, Aladdin Burucerdi, visited the Damascus to reassure the regime of Tehran's support.
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