Iran has ordered militants in Iraq to attack the U.S. Embassy and other American interests in Baghdad if the Obama administration carries out a military strike against Syria, according to a secret order intercepted by U.S. officials.
"Military officials have been trying to predict the range of possible responses from Syria, Iran and their allies. U.S. officials said they are on alert for Iran's fleet of small, fast boats in the Persian Gulf, where American warships are positioned. U.S. officials also fear Hezbollah could attack the U.S. Embassy in Beirut," the Wall Street Journal reports.
Officials say the U.S. is prepared to respond to retaliatory attacks by Syria, Iran or Syria's other allies.
US Secretary of State John Kerry addresses the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, September 4, 2013. The US Congress is debating on an authorization for the use of force against Syria following the goverment's alleged use of chemical weapons. Credit: AFP/Getty Images
In House and Senate hearings this week designed to seek congressional approval to strike Assad 's government - probably with cruise missiles but not with ground troops - top administration officials pleaded with skeptical lawmakers to consider the risks of doing nothing.
"Iran is hoping you look the other way," Secretary of State John Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "Our inaction would surely give them a permission slip for them to at least misinterpret our intention, if not to put it to the test. Hezbollah is hoping that isolationism will prevail. North Korea is hoping that ambivalence carries the day."
"They are all listening for our silence," Kerry said.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel raised the possibility that Assad's chemical weapons stockpile, considered one of the world's largest, could be seized by his allies, including the Lebanon-based militant group Hezbollah. "We cannot afford for Hezbollah or any terrorist groups determined to strike the United States to have incentives to acquire or use these chemical weapons," Hagel told the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Featured image via Getty.