[AP scare-mongering, followed by more reasonable version from Ynet in Israel, of all places.]
WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says intelligence suggests the Syrian government has moved some of its chemical weapons, but the U.S. believes that the main sites still remain secure.
Panetta says he does not have enough information to confirm if any of the moves suggest that some of the material has been acquired by the opposition forces battling the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
It is widely believed that Syria possesses extensive chemical and biological weapons stockpiles and it has threated to use them if the country comes under attack. President Barack Obama has said there would be enormous consequences if the U.S. sees any movement or use of the weapons.
Panetta was speaking at a news conference with Canadian Minister of National Defense Peter MacKay.
US defense secretary says intelligence indicates Syria’s main WMD arsenal still secure, under government control
The Syrians have moved some of their chemical weaponscapability to better secure it, but the country’s main chemical weapons sites remain intact and secure under government control, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Friday, citing US intelligence.
“There has been some intelligence that with regards to some of these sites that there has been some movement in order for the Syrians to better secure… the chemicals,” Panetta told a Pentagon news conference.
“So while there’s been some limited movement, again the major sites still remain in place, still remain secure.”
Panetta said that he does not have enough information to confirm if any of the moves suggest that some of the material has been acquired by the opposition forces battling the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The United States and Israel have both expressed concern that Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal – considered the largest in the world – would be compromised and wind up in terrorist hands, including those of Hezbollah.
Opposition forces have also expressed concern that the embattled regime will use its unconventional weapons, which include Sarin and mustard gas, on rebel forces and civilian population.
In August, rebel forces claimed that the Assad regime used “mass-killing thermobaric weapons” on civilians in Aleppo.