Syria “will never, under any circumstances, use chemical weapons against its own people,” according to a spokesman for the Assad regime. But signs of activity near Syria’s chemical weapons facilities have the world worried that Assad is lying.
As the NYT reports:
One American official provided the most specific description yet of what has been detected [at the weapons sites], saying 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. [...]
Over the weekend, the activity in Syria prompted a series of emergency communications among the Western allies.
“This is a red line for the United States,” Secretary Clinton told reporters in Prague. “I’m 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 to say we are certainly planning to take action.”Turkey in particular is at risk if Assad were to use those chemical weapons. Syrian regime aircraft frequently bomb towns on the border between Syria and Turkey, and shells fired from Syria have killed Turkish civilians. As a “senior Turkish official” told the Guardian:
We have intelligence from different sources that the Syrians will use ballistic missiles and chemical warheads … First they sent the infantry in against the rebels and they lost a lot of men, and many changed sides. Then they sent in the tanks, and they were taken out by anti-tank missiles. So now it’s air power. If that fails it will be missiles, perhaps with chemical warheads. That is why we asked Nato for protection.
There are also worrying hints that Hezbollah operatives might be camped out near Syria’s chemical weapons facilities. Whether they are there to protect the weapons or to help move them is unclear. Suffice it to say that from an American point of view, any association of a dangerous terrorist organization and a chemical weapons stockpile is a potential cause of war. (Perhaps our European friends will explain to us that the Hezbollah camps merely contain members of the organization’s ‘political wing’ and are not a security problem at all.)
If there is enough of this kind of news, America could get a new war sometime before Christmas.