Despite public denials, military preparations for intervention in the horrendous Syrian crisis are quietly afoot in Washington, Paris, Rome, London and Ankara. President Barack Obama is poised for a final decision after the Pentagon submits operational plans for protecting Syrian rebels and beleaguered populations from the brutal assaults of Bashar Assad’s army, debkafile’s Washington sources disclose.

The Sunday Times correspondent Marie Colvin and the French Figaro video-photographer Remi Ochik died Wednesday in the heavy shelling of a fortified building which housed Western journalists making their way into Homs under the protection of Syrian rebels. Three other Western journalists were injured. Western military sources reported Thursday that this undercover Western press center was maintained by the rebels in tight secrecy.

This process is also underway in allied capitals which joined the US in the Libyan operation that ended Muammar Qaddafi’s rule in August, 2011. They are waiting for a White House decision before going forward.
In Libya, foreign intervention began as an operation to protect the Libyan population against its ruler’s outrageous crackdown on dissent. It was mandated by UN Security Council. There is no chance of this in the Syrian case because it will be blocked by a Russian veto. Therefore, Western countries are planning military action of limited scope outside the purview of the world body, possibly on behalf of “Friends of Syria,” a group of 80 world nations which meets for the first time in Tunis Friday, Feb. 24, to hammer out practical steps for terminating the bloodbath pursued by the Assad regime. 
The foreign ministers and senior officials – Russia has excluded itself – will certainly be further galvanized into action by the tragic deaths of two notable journalists Wednesday, Feb. 22, on the 19th day of the shelling of Homs.
Preparations for the event are taking place at the Foreign Office in London. Wednesday, Foreign Secretary William Hague said: Governments around the world have the responsibility to act…and to redouble our efforts to stop the Assad regime’s despicable campaign of terror.”
Hague pointedly said nothing about removing the Syrian ruler. Nor did he spell out the efforts need to stop the campaign of terror. debkafile’s military sources note that he left these issues open because a decision by President Obama about if and how the US will act is pending until the Pentagon submits operational plans to Commander-in-Chief Obama.
The US president is also waiting for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s report on the mood at the Tunis conference. He wants to know in particular if Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar and the UAR will support US-led Western intervention in Syria, both politically and financially. source – DEBKA