World press on the use of chemical weapons in Syria (December 17, 2012)

"U.S. plans for possibility that Assad could lose control of chemical
arms cache" is an article published today by the Washington Post. "As
Bashar al-Assad’s hold on power steadily weakens, U.S. officials are
increasingly worried that Syria’s weapons of mass destruction could
fall into the hands of Islamist extremists, rogue generals or other
uncontrollable factions," the article begins.
"The opposition Free Syrian Army said it did not find any chemical
weapons at the first installation. But the developments have fanned
fears that even if Assad does not attack his own people with chemical
weapons, he is on the verge of losing control of his formidable
arsenal."
"The sites are not secure, retired Major-General Adnan Silou, who defected
to the opposition in June, said in an interview near Turkey’s border
with Syria. “Probably anyone from the Free Syrian Army or any Islamic
extremist group could take them over,” he said."
"The Pentagon has drawn up plans for responding to possible scenarios
involving Syria’s chemical arms, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta
said on Friday during a visit to Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, about 60
miles from the Syrian border. He declined to give details."
"In public, military officials have indicated that they are preparing
for potential joint operations with the Jordanian and Turkish armed
forces, while sharing intelligence with Israel. U.S. officials have also
sought to enlist the cooperation of Russia, which has a close
military relationship with Syria and helped develop its chemical
weapons program decades ago. Meanwhile, the U.S. government and some
European allies have hired private contractors to train Syrian rebels
how to monitor and secure chemical weapons sites should Assad abandon
or lose control of any of his stocks, according to CNN. A State
Department spokeswoman declined to comment on the report."
" Although the basic contours of Syria’s chemical weapons program have
been described for years in congressional testimony and independent
reports, analysts cautioned that the extent and precise nature of the
stockpile remain a mystery."

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