US: Syria Mobilizing Chemical Weapons

It's unclear why, but intelligence says part of its stockpile is on the move
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 13, 2012 7:05 AM CDT
In this citizen journalism image provided by Shaam News Network SNN, taken on Wednesday, July 11, 2012, black smoke rises from buildings near a mosque from purported forces shelling in Homs, Syria.   (AP Photo/Shaam News Network, SNN)

(Newser) – Syria is pulling many of its chemical weapons out of storage facilities, for reasons that aren't entirely clear, US officials tell the Wall Street Journal. Some believe Assad is simply moving the weapons to a safer location, or attempting to spook rebel-friendly Sunnis. But others believe he intends to use them against rebels or civilians. "The regime has a plan for ethnic cleansing, and we must come to terms with this," says one US official. "There is no diplomatic solution."

"This is absolutely ridiculous and untrue," a Syrian foreign ministry spokesman said. "If the US is so well-informed, why can't they help Kofi Annan in stopping the flow of illegal weapons?" But rebels say they've captured equipment from Syrian forces that appears designed to protect them from chemical weapons. Syria didn't sign the 1992 chemical weapons ban, and has stores of sarin, mustard gas, and cyanide. US and Jordanian special forces are working on a plan to secure those stockpiles if Assad's regime falls.

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