US President Donald Trump has revealed he is considering a military intervention in Venezuela.
It's a surprise escalation in Washington's response to the country's political crisis, and comes as the US is embroiled in an escalating war of words with North Korea.
Venezuela has appeared to slide toward a more volatile stage of unrest in recent days, with anti-government forces looting weapons from the military after the installation of an all-powerful new legislative body.
"The people are suffering and they are dying. We have many options for Venezuela including a possible military option if necessary," Mr Trump told reporters.
The Pentagon said it had not received any orders on Venezuela from the White House.
More than 120 people have been killed and thousands arrested in four months of unrest.
Venezuela defence chief hits back at Trump
Mr Trump's threat of military intervention in Venezuela is "an act of craziness", the South American country's Defense Minister, Vladimir Padrino, told state television.
Venezuela's foreign ministry is expected to issue a formal response to Trump's threat by way of a statement to be issued later on Friday.
The country's Communications Minister Ernesto Villegas, also in a state TV interview, called the threat from the United States "an unprecedented threat to national sovereignty".
Mr Trump threatened military intervention in Venezuela, as the nation appears to slide toward a more volatile stage of unrest, with anti-government forces looting weapons from the military after the installation of an all-powerful new legislative body.
Meanwhile, the ringleader of an August 6 attack on a Venezuelan military base near the city of Valencia has been captured, Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino said in a tweet on Friday.
The ministry launched a nationwide manhunt for Juan Carlos Caguaripano, a former National Guard captain, on Monday.
The assault on the military base coincided with a video circulated on social media in which Caguaripano called for a general uprising against unpopular socialist President Nicolas Maduro.
"This capture has dealt a hard blow against terrorism," Mr Padrino tweeted.
Reuters / Newshub.