Official: White House seeks Syria response 'just muscular enough not to get mocked'

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The New York Times also reported that the initial target list drafted by the Pentagon had fewer than 50 sites. The Pentagon has moved four U.S. Navy destroyers off the Syrian coast, which can launch low-altitude cruise missiles at selected sites.

On Tuesday, White House press secretary Jay Carney said that no course of action had been decided upon, but that the administration was not seeking "regime change" with its response.

"It is not our policy to respond to this transgression with regime change," he said.

In the U.K., foreign secretary William Hague said at a press conference that the government there was approaching the retaliation in Syria as a "very different situation from Iraq."

"Our government is going about it in an entirely different way," he said.

Meanwhile, Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi said Wednesday said his county would turn into a "graveyard of the invaders" if foreign powers intervened in its civil war.

The "colonialist threats" of Western powers "do not terrorize us because of the will and determination of the Syrian people, who will not accept being humiliated," Halqi said, according to AFP.