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US prepared for retaliation: Dempsey

US prepared for retaliation: Dempsey

Washington: A top American commander has said that the US is ready for any retaliatory action from Syria, as the Pentagon prepares for a possible military strike against Damascus in response to alleged use of chemical weapons.

Testifying before a Congressional committee on Syria, General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, conceded that the proposed military action is not about eliminating chemical weapons and it is not possible to do so.

"This isn't about eliminating chemical weapons. That's not possible given the number and the distribution of them. It's about convincing the Assad regime that it's unacceptable for them to use them, and that's the limit of this military operation," Dempsey told lawmakers in response to a question.

"We're postured for the possibility of retaliation, and I can assure you that our regional partners are, as well," he said what would the US do if the Assad regime retaliates.

Dempsey said he believes that the US can make the military strike effective.

"In terms of what it will do the region, that clearly will depend on the reaction of the Assad regime. But as I mentioned, our partners and the United States military is postured to deter his retaliation," he said.

Responding to another question, Dempsey said Syria could retaliate in several ways.

"There's both conventional risks that would be if he chose to use some of his long-range rockets to attack his neighbors or some of our facilities. There's also asymmetric, he could encourage some of the surrogates and proxies, such as Lebanese Hezbollah, to attack an embassy," he said.

"There's actions he could probably seek to achieve in cyber. And we are alert to all of the possibilities and are mitigating strategies in the way we've positioned ourselves in the region," Dempsey said.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry warned the Assad regime against retaliation.

"Some will undoubtedly and understandably ask about the unintended consequences of action. Will this drag you in, inadvertently? And they fear that a retaliation could lead to a larger conflict.

"Let me say again unequivocally, bluntly: If Assad is arrogant enough and foolish enough to retaliate to the consequences of his own criminal activity, the United States and our allies have ample ways to make him regret that decision without going to war," Kerry told lawmakers during the Congressional hearing.

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