Syria conflict: Residents of Damascus bracing for possible US strike

WASHINGTON, DC - As the U.S. edges toward a possible punitive military strike against Syria, residents of Damascus are stocking up on food and other necessities with no evident sign of panic.

President Barack Obama said on Friday he's weighing "limited and narrow" action, accusing Bashar Assad's government of launching a chemical weapons attack that killed at least 1,429 people -- far more than previous estimates -- including more than 400 children.

U.N. chemical weapons experts have left Syria and crossed into neighboring Lebanon.

An Associated Press crew saw the U.N. personnel cross into Lebanon from Syria through the country's Masnaa border crossing early Saturday.

The team on Friday carried out a fourth and final day of inspection as they sought to determine precisely what happened in the Aug. 21 alleged chemical weapons attack near Damascus.

The team took samples from victims for examination in laboratories in Europe.

The White House will brief Republican senators in a conference call Saturday at the request of Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell.

The Syrian government says the administration claims are "flagrant lies" akin to faulty Bush administration assertions before the Iraq invasion that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. A Foreign Ministry statement read on state TV said that "under the pretext of protecting the Syrian people, they are making a case for an aggression that will kill hundreds of innocent Syrian civilians."

One resident of Damascus says he's "not afraid from the Western threats to Syria." He says "they created the chemical issue as a pretext for intervention, and they are trying to hit Syria for the sake of Israel."

Obama said he has not yet made a final decision on a response to the suspected chemical attack. But he said it would not involve "boots on the ground."

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