BEIRUT (REUTERS) - Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi called on Thursday for mobilising national resources to preserve essential state services in the case of a military attack by the United States and its Western allies in the coming days.
Washington and close allies are publicly raising the prospect of military action in Syria as punishment for what they say was an apparent poison gas attack by government forces in a rebel-held area on Aug 21 that killed hundreds of civilians.
Mr al-Halqi said the steps he was calling for were necessary "to overcome any emergency situation and prevent enemies from disrupting state services, especially electricity, drinking water, communications, food and oil", according to a statement from SANA, Syria's state news agency.
"The government strives to secure supplies of food, medicine and services," said Mr al-Halqi. "There is a strategic supply of all materials, and the bakeries are continuing to operate around the clock to meet citizens' needs."
He commented during a meeting of government ministers and regional governors convened to discuss readiness plans for government agencies that provide such services.
Rebels hold much of Syria's north and east while the government retains control of most major cities.
"We will resist any attempted sabotage by enemies of the state," said Mr al-Halqi.
President Bashar al-Assad, facing a two-and-a-half-year-old armed revolt, has flatly denied Western accusations that his forces resorted to chemical weapons in last week's attack, instead blaming the rebels. They deny any responsibility.