The Syrian government is reportedly moving troops and armaments to civilian areas across the country in order to counter a possible military strike by the US.
President Bashar al-Assad's regime is deploying rocket launchers and heavy weapons in residential areas across the country in a bid to create human shields, according to the Associated Press. This has been corroborated by the main opposition bloc, the Syrian National Coalition.
The US is believed to have mobilised its nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz along with four destroyers and a cruiser. Although it is not clear whether the vessel is travelling to the Mediterranean, it is reportedly part of the ongoing Syria strike plan.
"It's about leveraging the assets to have them in place should the capabilities of the carrier strike group and the presence be needed," an American official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
Assad's move to create human shields follows a defiant statement to Syria's state-run news agency SANA, in which he claimed the country "is capable of facing up to any external aggression just as it faces up to internal aggression every day, in the form of terrorist groups and those that support them.
"The American threats of launching an attack against Syria will not discourage Syria away from its principles ... or its fight against terrorism supported by some regional and Western countries, first and foremost the United States of America."
In a separate development, the Arab League has also urged the international community for punitive action against Syria over its alleged use of chemical weapons.
"The United Nations and the international community are called upon to assume their responsibilities in line with the UN Charter and international law by taking the necessary deterrent measures," the foreign ministers of the Arab League said in a statement after a meeting in Cairo.