AMMAN - Western powers told the Syrian opposition to expect a strike against President Bashar al-Assad's forces within days, according to sources who attended a meeting between envoys and the Syrian National Coalition in Istanbul.
"The opposition was told in clear terms that action to deter further use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime could come as early as in the next few days, and that they should still prepare for peace talks at Geneva," one of the sources who was at the meeting on Monday told Reuters.
The meeting at a hotel in downtown Istanbul was between senior figures of the Syrian National Coalition, including its president Ahmad Jarba, and envoys from 11 core "Friends of Syria" alliance members, that included US envoy Robert Ford, the top US official handling the Syria file, the sources said.
Facing Russian and Chinese disapproval that could dampen prospects for proposed peace talks in Geneva, Assad's foes have vowed to punish a poison gas attack in some rebel-held districts of Damascus on August 21 that killed hundreds.
UN experts trying to establish what exactly happened in the attack were finally able to cross the frontline on Monday to see survivors - despite being shot at in government-held territory. But they put off a second visit until Wednesday.