CNS News 
August 26, 2013
A meeting currently underway in Jordan of Western and Arab defense chiefs was scheduled several months ago, but last week’s alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria’s capital just over 100 miles away is expected to dominate the agenda.
The gathering in Amman is co-chaired by U.S. Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who is accompanied by U.S. Central Command head Gen. Lloyd Austin. According to Jordanian state media others taking part are defense chiefs from Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the host nation.
Over the past month Dempsey has taken flak from some congressional critics for offering assessments of possible military options  for Syria which they viewed as overly negative , but the discussion has shifted dramatically following last Wednesday’s incident near Damascus.
The suspected use by the Assad regime of an outlawed chemical agent that killed hundreds of people has prompted a new level of rhetoric by Western leaders, who warn that a “firm” and “serious’ response is now required. (Syrian President Bashar Assad said in an interview published Monday that his troops did not use chemical weapons in an attack on a rebel-held suburb in a Damascus last week where hundreds of people died.)