NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – The NYPD is keeping an eye on the escalating situation in Syria as the department readies additional security measures ahead of the Jewish high holidays.
The United States is considering military action against Bashar Assad’s regime after it allegedly deployed chemical weapons against its citizens.
Officials said U.S. forces are in position and could launch a strike if ordered by President Barack Obama.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said there is currently no intelligence to indicate there could be a problem in New York City if the U.S. launches an attack on Syria.
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“Let me say that we’re always looking over the horizon. We are aware of conditions throughout the world, we have a large police force and we’re always looking at contingencies, things that may happen,” Kelly said. “I can only tell you that we will respond, in our judgment, accordingly if something happens overseas. We’ve always been concerned about what happens throughout the world – it’s become much smaller after 9/11. That’s why we have our own officers stationed overseas, so they have their ear to the ground.”
Kelly said the NYPD continues to be alert and vigilant and added there are no specific threats against the city as a result of the situation in Syria.
As is always the case, there will be a heightened police presence at Jewish houses of worship over the high holidays and the heavily armed Hercules teams will be ready if needed, Kelly said.
Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, begins at sundown on Wednesday, Sept. 4. Yom Kippur begins on Friday, Sept. 13.
As of Tuesday evening, four U.S. Navy warships were in the eastern Mediterranean, ready to launch cruise missiles that would likely strike Syrian targets, CBS News’ Tara Mergener reported.
“The president believes, and I believe, that those who use chemical weapons against defenseless men, women, and children should and must be held accountable,” said Vice President Joe Biden.
A British submarine is also reported in the area.
Defense Secretary Charles Hagel told the BBC his forces are ready.
“The options are there,” he said. “The United States Department of Defense is ready to carry out those options.”
United Nations investigators have been sent to in Syria to determine if nerve agents were used during an attack last week. But the team had to put its work on hold Tuesday for security reasons.
The Obama administration is not waiting for the United Nations findings. The White House says U.S. intelligence believes Syrian President Bashar Assad attacked his own people with chemical weapons.
“There is no doubt here that chemical weapons were used on a massive scale on August 21 outside of Damascus,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney.
The White House said any military action would be a direct response to Assad using chemical weapons, and the goal would not be to remove him from power.
The White House has not given a timeline for the president’s decision, but the administration to talking to allies and members of Congress to build support for quick action.
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