U.S., Allies Prepare to Act as Syria Intelligence Mounts

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Positions hardened in the international standoff over Syria, as U.S. officials said privately that a flood of previously undisclosed intelligence, including satellite images and intercepted communications, erased any last administration doubts that the Syrian regime had used chemical weapons against its own people.

French, U.K. and U.S. military officials talked Tuesday about coordinating their response to the alleged attacks.

The current U.S. position, reflected in a set of tough remarks Tuesday by Vice President Joe Biden, represents a dramatic turnaround from last week. As late as Friday, Secretary of State John Kerry was pressuring Syria to let United Nations inspectors visit the affected areas to help determine the veracity of reports of a chemical attack.

Less than 48 hours later came a marked shift in tone. In an email on Sunday, White House National Security Adviser Susan Rice told U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power and other top officials that the U.N. mission was pointless because the chemical weapons evidence already was conclusive, officials said. The U.S. privately urged the U.N. to pull the inspectors out, setting the stage for President Barack Obama to possibly move forward with a military response, officials said.

The weekend turnabout was spurred by new intelligence that convinced Mr. Obama's top national security advisers that forces loyal to Mr. Assad had used chemical weapons and that they were actively trying to cover up evidence of it even while they shelled..

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