Pentagon Ordered to Expand List of Syrian Targets

Friday, 06 Sep 2013 10:22 AM

By Lisa Barron

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The Pentagon has been ordered to expand the number of potential targets in Syria beyond the roughly 50 sites originally targeted before President Barack Obama decided to seek Congressional approval for military action.

Obama is now putting more emphasis on the "degrade" part of what he has defined as the goal of a military strike in Syria, namely to "deter and degrade" President Bashar Assad's ability to use chemical weapons, reports The New York Times.

The administration also is now reportedly weighing the use of both American and French aircraft to carry out strikes in addition to ship-launched Tomahawk cruise missiles. At the same, it's also pushing to get other NATO forces involved.

The strikes would apparently be aimed at the military units that have prepared and stored the chemical weapons as well as the rockets and artillery that have been used to deliver them.

According to The Washington Post, the main target is likely to be the Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC), described as Syria’s equivalent of Los Alamos National Laboratory in the U.S., where the first atomic bomb was developed.

The move to expand the list of targets reportedly comes after the Pentagon received intelligence that Assad has been moving troops and equipment used to deploy chemical weapons.

The bulk of any attack, however, is still expected to be carried out by cruise missiles from some or all of the four Arleigh Burke-class destroyers within striking range of Syria in the eastern Mediterranean.

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