Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is prepping for a potential U.S. strike by moving detained opponents of the regime from their jail cells to potential strike locations in the country.

From the UAE newspaper The National:

Residents in the Syrian capital said they had seen fully loaded buses moving late Wednesday from the military court in Damascus to Mezzeh airbase on the southwestern tip of the city, a likely target for US missiles.

The plight of thousands of prisoners held in a vast network of security facilities throughout the country is a major concern for their families and opposition activists.

…The opposition Syrian National Coalition also warned that prisoners were being used as human shields by president Bashar Al Assad’s forces.

“Assad’s fascist regime is amassing detained activists and civilians in prisons inside military locations that may be potential targets for foreign military forces,” it said in a statement today.

“Using civilians as human shields is a blatant breach of International Humanitarian Law, and those responsible must be held accountable for crimes against humanity.”

Thousands of protesters, rebels and dissidents have been arrested and held in detention since the start of the uprising in March 2011. Many of them remain missing, and are believed to be inside a shadowy network of security branches and military compounds.

The House Intelligence Committee says congressional leaders will be briefed on the Syria situation by administration officials today.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, said yesterday that the U.S. is now “stuck with the least worst option.”

“Any decision we make in Syria will have effects and consequences throughout the region and those consequences must be fully weighed,” she said. “Had we gotten involved in Syria early on when Assad began his onslaught against his people and supported those who stood against him and called for freedom and democracy, we might not be faced with such difficult decisions today. But now Iran and Hezbollah have become entrenched in this conflict, fighting alongside the Assad regime, and Russia continues to supply Assad with the weapons and weapons systems he needs to remain in power while also blocking any action against Syria at the UN Security Council.”