Despite Russian opposition, it appeared that Western nations are preparing for an attack against Syrian regime targets.
British Foreign Minister William Hague did not deny the possibility of a military operation, saying Monday that Britain faced between a military strike and inaction, which would allow tyrants to use chemical weapons.
"This may be the choice. This is why we have called for a strong response," he said.
Hague said the U.K. was consulting with its allies, adding that he spoke with Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby, the foreign minister said on Twitter.
British Prime Minister David Cameron cut his vacation time short on Monday to deal with the Syrian issue, and was expected to call a meeting of the British National Security Council on Wednesday or Thursday to discuss the situation.
Two commercial pilots who regularly fly from Larnaca, Cyprus told The Guardian on Monday that they had spotted C-130 cargo planes from their own aircraft, and a small formation of fighter jets on their radar screens. The pilots said the warplanes appeared to be of European origin, according to The Guardian.
Britain's Akrotiri air base on Cyprus's south beaches is less than 100 miles from the Syrian coastline. The United Kingdom would likely use the Cypriot air base as a hub for launching air attacks. Residents living near Akrotiri said they had seen increased activity in the last 48 hours around the air base.
Cypriot Foreign Minister Ionnais Kasoulides meanwhile said on Tuesday that he did not expect a British air base on the Mediterranean island to play a major role in any military strike against Syria.
"I have the impression that the British bases won't play any primary role ... because they are not needed but we will have to see," Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides told state radio.
Kasoulides said he had received a pledge "there would not be any surprises" from countries involved in any action against Syria. He did not elaborate.
Britain maintains two military bases in Cyprus, a former colony that lies less than 100 kilometers (62 miles) west of Syria at its closest point.
Their role has traditionally been to support operations in the region, and not for offensive purposes.
But Kasoulides said the island had to take a stand.
"The people of Syria don't deserve to be left at the mercy of attacks of this kind, weapons of mass destruction, chemical weapons. ... It's a disgrace for humanity not to be in a position to do something."
Reports of British readiness on Cyprus followed other reports that the United States was bolstering its naval presence in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.
Analysts believe that Western nations would launch a short military campaign against Syria to deter the country, entangled in a civil conflict nearly two and a half years old, from using unconventional weapons and to punish Syrian President Bashar Assad's armed forces for the previous use of chemical weapons.
Western forces could target elite Syrian units, the same ones that may have been responsible for the reported chemical weapons attack last week that opposition groups said left more than 1,000 people dead. The Western coalition could attack elite troops commanded by Assad's brother, Maher Assad, as well.
London-based Asharq Al-Awsat said the U.S. has a list of some 150 potential targets should it decide to attack Syria, and that Western attacks may target military bases or outposts near Damascus.
The report quoted retired Lebanese general Hisham M. Jaber, who today heads the Middle East Center for Studies and Political Research in Beirut, as saying that the "target bank" includes "air defense bases, airports and missile bases, command and control centers, as well as communications centers..."
"Washington exclusively knows the targets, as well as some allies, should they decide to participate in the strike," he said. He added that the U.S. could target elite units that are organized around Damascus to protect the regime.
Syria says U.S. would suffer consequences of military strike
Assad meanwhile denied accusations that his forces used chemical weapons, saying that the United States would be defeated if it intervened in his country.
"Would any state use chemicals or any other weapons of mass destruction in a place where its own forces are concentrated? That would go against elementary logic," he told the Russian newspaper Izvestia. "Failure awaits the United States as in all previous wars it has unleashed, starting with Vietnam and up to the present day."
Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoabi told Hezbollah-affiliate outlet Al-Manar that Syria would have "no choice but to defend itself should it come under an enemy attack."
UN. inspectors investigate alleged chemical-weapons site amid sniper fire
U.N. chemical weapons experts investigated sites of last week's apparent poison gas attack in a rebel-held suburb of Syria's capital, after the inspectors themselves survived sniper fire that hit their convoy.
The investigators crossed the front-line from the centre of the capital, which remains under Assad's control, to inspect the Mouadamiya suburb, one of at least four neighborhoods hit by poison gas last Wednesday before dawn.
The U.N. said one vehicle in its convoy was crippled by shooting by "unidentified snipers," but mentioned no injuries.
They continued on after turning back for a replacement car.