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U.S. repositions naval forces, no decision on Syria strike

Free Syrian Army fighters walk past damaged buildings and debris in Deir al-Zor

By Matt Spetalnick and Andrea Shalal-Esa

WASHINGTON |          Fri Aug 23, 2013 11:27pm EDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States on Friday was repositioning naval forces in the Mediterranean to give President Barack Obama the option for an armed strike on Syria, although officials cautioned that Obama had made no decision on military action.

A defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the U.S. Navy would expand its presence in the Mediterranean to four destroyers from three.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, en route to Asia, said Obama had asked the Pentagon for options on Syria, where an apparent chemical weapons attack that killed as many as 1,000 civilians has upped pressure on Washington to respond.

The Defense Department has responsibility to provide the president with options for all contingencies,” Hagel said. “And that requires positioning our forces, positioning our assets, to be able to carry out different options – whatever options the president might choose.” He did not elaborate….

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