WASHINGTON (CBS) - CBS News has learned that the Pentagon is making the initial preparations for a cruise missile attack on Syrian government forces.
We say "initial preparations" because such an attack won't happen until the president gives the green light. And it was clear during an interview on CNN Friday that he is not there yet.
"If the U.S. goes in and attacks another country, without a U.N. mandate and without clear evidence that can be presented," the president told CNN, "then there are questions in terms of whether international law supports it -- 'do we have the coalition to make it work?' Those are considerations that we have to take into account."
The attack on the Damascus suburbs, which left hundreds dead this week, is looking more and more like a poison gas was used. The United States warned Syria months ago that using chemical weapons could provoke a U.S. response.
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President Obama's national security adviser, Susan Rice, sent out a Tweet on Friday, calling what happened "an apparent CW (chemical weapons) attack." And the commander of U.S. forces in the Mediterranean has ordered Navy warships to move closer to Syria to be ready for a possible cruise missile strike.
Launching cruise missiles from the sea would not risk any American lives. It would be a punitive strike designed not to topple Syrian dictator Bashir Assad but to convince him he cannot get away with using chemical weapons.
To read more click here. WARNING pictures and video of chemical attack aftermath is graphic. Viewers discretion is advised.