U.S. forces were ready to strike Syria, surprised by Obama's decision to pause

U.S. forces in the Middle East tasked with carrying out military action against Syria were ready to go this past weekend and were caught off guard by President Barack Obama’s decision to first seek congressional approval.

Navy destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean equipped with cruise missiles had ramped up operations from the previous week, thinking they would be ordered to launch a strike as early as Saturday.

“I thought that was the night,” a Defense Department official told CNN.

“We were standing multiple watches. Everyone was pretty sure it was going to happen,” the official added.

He said the sudden change in direction from the White House late on Friday was surprising.

“The tempo went from ‘go-go-go’ to nothing,” he said.