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TODAY   |  August 27, 2013

US building case for military action in Syria

United States intelligence officials are convinced the Syrian regime used chemical weapons against rebels last week, and are building their case for military action without putting troops on the ground. NBC’s Richard Engel reports.

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>> now available to president obama . let's get to richard engle in turkey near the syrian border. richard, good morning to you.

>> good morning, matt, this morning, syrian's foreign minister accused washington of searching for a pretext to attack the country. said if any military action does come syria will defend itself by all means possible.

>> reporter: u.n. inspectors in damascus, one of you their vehicles shot by a sniper interviewed them yesterday and doctors and looked for evidence of a chemical attack but it maybe too late. u.s. intelligence officials are convinced the syrian regime used chemical weapons last week on a scale not seen anywhere in decades. so the united states is once again building a case for military action . this time on moral grounds and to discourage others from using chemical weapons .

>> the imagines of entire families dead in their beds without a drop of blood or visible wound. bodies contorting in spasms. human suffering that we can never ignore or forget. anyone who can claim an attack of this stragerring scale could be contrived or fabricated needs to check their compass and own moral compass .

>> reporter: while the white house says no final decision has been made, the u.s. has option for a limited strike without sending in news. expect cruise missiles from four warships and two sub marines in the mediterranean targeting control bunkers and artillery and airfields but not chemical stock piles. the leader of the rebel army told us this morning he hopes u.s. actions will be strong enough to collapse the regime.

>> we are afraid that in the coming days, not coming weeks, bashad will use chemical weapons and chemical material against very wide areas.

>> reporter: in syria, many we spoke to desperately want american protection. a cotton farmer told us his family is terrified by the prospect of another chemical attack and hopes the u.s. and the world will now act decisively to prevent one.

>> the u.s. isn't alone in considering military action , matt. turkey, the u.k., and france have all also expressed support, matt.