UK & World News
Syria: UK Draws Up Plans For Military Action
Britain's Armed Forces are drawing up plans for military action in Syria as the Assad regime says it will use "all available means" to defend itself.
Prime Minister David Cameron, who is back in London after cutting his family holiday short, is deciding whether he will recall Parliament while he continues talks with global leaders on possible intervention.
Downing Street said Mr Cameron is considering what would constitute a "proportionate response" after the alleged toxic gas attack, which is said to have killed more than 1,300 people.
Mr Cameron is under pressure to be able to legally justify any intervention.
A build-up of military aircraft on British base RAF Akrotiri on Cyprus suggested that planning had reached a developed stage.
Foreign Secretary William Hague has declined to rule out action, such as targeted air strikes, being launched within days.
At the same time, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem says any foreign strike on his country would be "delusional".
He says Syria will defend itself against any strike using "all available means".
"We have two options: either to surrender, or to defend ourselves with the means at our disposal," he said.
"The second choice is the best: we will defend ourselves."
Mr Muallem also claims today's UN inspections had to be scrapped because of disputes between rebels.
Snipers shot at the UN team on Monday, but the inspectors still managed to collect some "valuable" samples.
The UN inspections will take place tomorrow instead, Mr Muallem said.
US Secretary of State John Kerry has said the use of chemical weapons was "undeniable".
Syrian President Bashar Assad's will be held accountable for the "moral obscenity", Mr Kerry said.
"Let me be clear. The indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity," Mr Kerry said.
The US also postponed a Syrian crisis meeting with Russia that was scheduled for this week because of America's ongoing review of the attack.
Russia - the Syrian regime's most powerful ally - said postponing The Hague meeting was a "serious disappointment".
Moscow also warned that any use of force against Syria would have "catastrophic consequences".
"We call on our American colleagues and all members of the international community to show prudence, strict observance of international law, and above all, the fundamental principles of the UN Charter," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
Russia's Emergencies Ministry has told Sky News that it is sending a plane to Syria today to take in humanitarian aid and is planning to bring around 150 of its citizens out.
Mr Assad denies using the chemical weapons and Moscow - which supplies arms to Syria - has backed claims that video footage of victims could be opposition propaganda.
Back in the UK, Mr Cameron, Mr Hague and other ministers are preparing for Wednesday's National Security Council (NSC) meeting on Syria.
But Labour's Shadow Foreign Secretary, Douglas Alexander, told Sky News that MPs must be given a vote before any British military action.
Mr Alexander said he hopes other options besides military intervention are being being considered by the UK, US and other countries.
"I don't rule out supporting the Government [on intervention], but I think it's incumbent on the Government to make its case, to produce the evidence, to answer questions and to allow Parliament to have its say," he said.
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair, the Middle East envoy, said it was vital to "take sides" against the Assad regime and in other regional disputes.
Mr Blair, who took the decision for British troops to join the US-led action in Iraq, wrote in the Times: "I know as one of the architects of policy after 9/11 the controversy, anguish and cost of the decisions taken.
"They have to be defeated. We should defeat them, however long it takes because otherwise they will not disappear. They will grow stronger until, at a later time, there will be another crossroads and this time there will be no choice."
Former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell said it was "inconceivable" to act before the UN inspectors had completed their work.