Report: Assad moving human shields to possible target sites in Syria

The move is a possible sign that Assad is planning to use human shields as a way to deter American warships from launching missile strikes against vital military installations in the country. 

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"Assad's ... regime is amassing detained activists and civilians in prisons inside military locations that may be potential targets for foreign military forces," according to a statement from the Syrian National Council, the political arm of the largest anti-Assad group fighting to overthrow the longtime leader. 

"Using civilians as human shields is a blatant breach of International Humanitarian Law, and those responsible must be held accountable for crimes against humanity," said the council leaders. 

Assad's forces have already begun to dig in for possible U.S. strikes in the country. 

The U.S. "threat will make [Syrians] even more determined and ready for confrontation," Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi said Thursday. 

The Pentagon and White House have reportedly complied a list of nearly 50 targets across the country where Assad's forces are stationed, according to The New York Times. 

The proposed attacks are in retaliation for alleged chemical weapons attacks by Assad's troops against anti-government rebels in the country. 

Military planners at the Pentagon and White House reportedly avoided targeting suspected chemical weapons stockpiles, fearing that strikes would release their deadly contents into nearby towns and villages.

Syrian troops have already abandoned positions in the capital of Damascus, retreating to underground bunkers and military compounds north of the city. 

Artillery batteries based in Damascus, used to fire on rebel positions around the city, along with the Syrian military's central headquarters and command and control locations, were hastily moved from Damascus to fortified compounds in the foothills of the Anti-Lebanon Mountains, Reuters reported Wednesday. 

On Thursday, top regime leaders ordered "governmental bodies [to] mobilize national resources and scale up their emergency preparedness to confront any eventuality," including U.S. military action against the country, according to reports by state-run Syrian Arab News Agency.