Dec 3, 2012 Comments Off Pat Dollard
Excerpted from The Jerusalem Post: Western intelligence officials have noticed new worrying signs of activity at chemical weapons sites in Syria, The New York Times reported on Saturday.
The Syrian regime is “doing some things that suggest they intend to use the weapons,” one American intelligence official told the Times, adding, “It’s not just moving stuff around. These are different kind of activities.”
Excerpted from The New York Times: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Monday warned President Bashar al-Assad of Syria not to use chemical weapons and said that the United States was prepared to act if he ignored the warning.
“This is a red line for the United States,” Mrs. Clinton said. “I am not going to telegraph in any specifics what we would do in the event of credible evidence that the Assad regime has resorted to using chemical weapons against their own people. But suffice it to say we are certainly planning to take action if that eventuality were to occur.”
There have been signs in recent days of heightened activity at some of Syria’s chemical weapons sites, according to American and Israeli officials familiar with intelligence reports. Mrs. Clinton did not confirm the intelligence reports or say what sort of activity was occurring.
The Syrian Foreign Ministry, in a swift response, said the government “would not use chemical weapons, if it had them, against its own people under any circumstances.” The statement was reported on Syrian state television and on the Lebanese channel LBC.
What exactly is happening at Syria’s chemical sites is unclear. One American official said Sunday that “the activity we are seeing suggests some potential chemical weapon preparation,” which goes beyond the mere movement of stockpiles among Syria’s several dozen known sites. But the official declined to offer more specifics.
Over the weekend, the activity in Syria prompted a series of urgent consultations among the Western nations, which have long been developing contingency plans to neutralize the chemical weapons, a task that the Pentagon estimates would require more than 75,000 troops. But there were no signs that any American action was imminent.
So far, Mr. Obama has been very cautious about intervening in Syria, declining to arm the opposition groups directly.