Securing Syria's Chemical Arms Will Take 75K Troops

White House worries terrorists, Syrian gov't eyeing chemical stores
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 16, 2012 8:07 AM CST
Securing Syria's Chemical Arms Will Take 75K Troops
The Pentagon says it could require upwards of 75,000 troops to secure Syria's chemical weapons, if the White House needs to intervene there directly.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – As Syria's brutal civil war beats on, the White House is growing ever more concerned about the country's large chemical weapon stash falling into terrorist hands—especially Hezbollah, which has set up training camps close to some storage sites. But if the United States wants to secure those stockpiles, it will take about 75,000 troops, the Pentagon has told the Obama administration, reports the New York Times. The Times notes that there have been no indications that Hezbollah is trying to access the weapons; instead, it may have put its camps in close proximity to the weapons based on the belief that they wouldn't be bombed if the arms were nearby.

More troubling is the "credible information that the Assad regime has been upgrading and expanding its chemical weapons arsenal," said one analyst. New intelligence points to the export of North Korean missile technology to Syria. President Obama has said that Syria's chemical weapons could force him to "change my calculus" about getting involved militarily in that civil war. But the Pentagon's report raises concerns as to whether the United States has the capacity to act in time. The Pentagon notes that a more select number of stockpile sites could be secured using fewer troops. (Read more Syria stories.)

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