BANDER SERI BEGAWAN, Brunei - U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says U.S. forces are now ready to act on any order by President Barack Obama to strike Syria.
The U.S. Navy has four destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean Sea within range of targets inside Syria. The U.S. also has warplanes in the region.
In an interview Tuesday with BBC television during a visit to the southeast Asian nation of Brunei, Hagel also predicted that U.S. intelligence agencies would soon conclude that last week's deadly attack on civilians in a Damascus suburb was a chemical attack by the government.
He called it "pretty good intelligence."
Meanwhile, Syria's foreign minister says his country will defend itself using "all means available" in case of a U.S. strike.
Walid al-Moallem says Syria has two choices, either to surrender or fight back, and it will choose the latter.
He declined to elaborate or say to what specific means he was referring.
Al-Moallem spoke at a press conference in the Syrian capital Tuesday amid growing international support for military action against Syria in response to what U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said was "undeniable" evidence of a large-scale chemical attack likely launched by Damascus.
Al-Moallem challenged anyone accusing the Syrian regime of using chemical weapons to provide proof.