The United States is deliberating about action to punish Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government for an apparent poison gas attack on civilians.
The momentum for a decisive strike slowed after a British parliamentary vote on Thursday against it.
It was reported earlier that the White House plans on Friday to release an unclassified version of an intelligence assessment of a chemical weapons attack last week in Syria, according to an US official.
Meanwhile US President Barack Obama met top national security aides Friday, with a window about to open for possible US strikes to punish Syria over a chemical weapons attack.
Obama was meeting his National Security Council at the White House, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Within the next few days the United States is ready to strike Syria on its own, despite the decision of the Parliament of Great Britain, its closest ally, to refuse from participation in the operation, local media report. Allegedly, a missile strike will be launched from the Eastern Mediterranean with at least 35 Syrian bases targeted.
The Time magazine notes that a "window" for a strike opens with the Saturday departure of the UN inspectors on chemical weapons from Syria and closes with the departure of President Barack Obama to Sweden and to the G20 summit in St. Petersburg on Tuesday evening (Washington time). A high-ranking representative of the US administration has informed the CNN television channel that the United States could strike on Syria on its own, without their allies. "I think that's possible," he said on condition of anonymity.
Meanwhile, the emphasis of the forthcoming operation is put on its limited nature. "What is discussed here, has such a limited and narrow nature that it does not need bringing in different resources of other countries,- said an official quoted by the Wall Street Journal newspaper. - We believe that it is more important to have diplomatic support, and we receive it".
Basing on the data of experts, the Foreign Policy magazine believes that the attacks will be conducted at no less than 35 targets in the territory of Syria. Among them, in particular, there are headquarters, communication centers, places of dislocation of military units, which may use chemical weapons, airfields, from where aircrafts carrying chemical weapons can take off, as well as centers of special services and Bashar al-Assad presidential palace.
The Pentagon has no plans to attack warehouses of chemical weapons, of which there are about 50, as this may result in contamination of the area.
According to US media referring to sources in the Pentagon, sea-based cruise missiles will be used for these attacks. In particular, currently there are four missile destroyers in the Eastern Mediterranean, each of which carries no less than 56 Tomahawk cruise missiles with a range of 1.6 thousand km.
Thursday, the Pentagon also informed that another American destroyer had come in the Mediterranean Sea.
The ships do not enter the fire zone of anti-ship complexes of the Syrian coast guards; however, the Tomahawks’ range of flight allows American ships to hit any target in the territory of Syria. It is supposed that during the beginning of the operation about 180 cruise missiles, which cost $1.4 million each, can be shot at targets in Syria.
In addition, 1-2 Los Angeles class nuclear submarines with 12 cruise missiles on board, and 1-2 Ohio class nuclear submarines armed with 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles, are present in the Mediterranean on a regular basis. One of them may be the Florida submarine, which took an active part in the NATO operation "Odyssey Dawn" against Libya. At the beginning of this operation for creating a no-fly zone, on March 19, 2011, the submarine shot a total of 93 cruise missiles at targets in Libya, 90 of which were successfully destroyed.
Thus, at the moment, the US Navy potentially possess from 446 to 612 cruise missiles for attack on Syria. According to experts, these means are more than enough for conducting a limited strike, so that, as Washington intends, to disarm the Syrian authorities and deprive Damascus of a possibility to use chemical weapons against the opposition.
The US media, citing sources in the Pentagon, do not exclude that there will be several waves of cruise missiles strikes, between which the military will make assessments of the achieved results and decide on the continuation of the strikes. The Washington Post newspaper informs that the attacks are likely to last from 24 to 48 hours.
Last week, the Syrian opposition stated that the military had used chemical weapons against them. Damascus calls these allegations a lie. The West and a number of Arab countries have stated that they were ready to strike retaliatory blows on the Syrian regime.