News / Middle East

Panetta: Syria Considering Using Chemical Weapons

Luis Ramirez
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said intelligence reports suggest the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is considering using chemical weapons against advancing rebels.

The defense secretary’s confirmation there is intelligence suggesting Syria is considering using chemical weapons follows media reports that quoted U.S. sources as saying Assad’s forces have begun preparations to launch poison gas attacks.

“There is no question that we remain very concerned, very concerned, that as the opposition advances, in particular on Damascus, that the regime might very well consider the use of chemical weapons,” said Panetta.

Suspected Syrian Chemical Weapons

  • Man-made highly toxic odorless, tasteless, colorless nerve agent
  • Possibly used during Iraq-Iran war
  • Exposure can be by inhalation, ingestion and skin absorption; people can recover with treatment form mild or moderate exposure

  • Odorless, tasteless man-made nerve agent; most potent of all nerve agents
  • Slow to evaporate, can last for days on objects
  • Exposure can be through skin contact or inhalation; people can recover with treatment for mild or moderate exposure

Mustard Gas
  • Chemical warfare agent that causes skin blisters and mucous membranes
  • Sometimes odorless, sometimes smells like garlic, onions or mustard
  • Exposure can be by inhalation, ingestion or skin contact
  • Vapor released in the air can be carried long distances; exposure not usually fatal

Source: CDC
Speaking to reporters in Washington, Panetta repeated warnings to Assad, saying there will be consequences if the embattled Syrian leader decides to use chemical weapons against his own people.

“I am not going to speculate or comment what those potential consequences would be, but I think it is fair enough to say that their use of those weapons will cross the red line," he said. "The intelligence that we have raises serious concerns that this is being considered.”

Panetta did not say what that intelligence is. U.S. and allied officials say they have detected ‘movement activity’ around Syria’s chemical weapons sites. Media reports quote unidentified U.S. officials as saying the Assad government is moving components of sarin gas and loading it onto bombs.

Syria's deputy foreign minister, Faisal Maqdad, alleged Thursday that Western countries were raising the threat of chemical weapons as an excuse to intervene.

The Assad government in July acknowledged it has chemical weapons, but said it would use them only against foreign invaders.

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Comment Sorting
by: Igor from: Russia
December 08, 2012 3:07 AM
Panetta said that Syrian government was considering using chemical weapons and threatened to punish them. So who will punish those who spread Agent Orange in Vietnam during the Vietnam war killing and affecting millions of Vietnamese people? Nobody!
Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, codenamed Curveball by German and American intelligence officials who dealt with his claims, has told the Guardian that he fabricated tales of mobile bioweapons trucks and clandestine factories in an attempt to bring down the Saddam Hussein regime. And Panetta is trying to do the same thing. What a liar!!!

by: Rianto from: Indonesia
December 06, 2012 9:04 PM
What will happen to the chemical weapon if the rebels win the war? Won't that weapon will be sold to the terrorist group that join the rebels?
World is still in danger.

by: jethromayham from: usa
December 06, 2012 6:45 PM
Talk of gas is so premature because every article says that all incidents have not been verified due to govt. restrictions in Syria.
So shouldn't we have actual proof instead of huffing and puffing?
If we cry wolf, they just might follow our suggestions and use it in desperation.
We are already near or beyond the 40,000 mark and have quite a ways to go before reaching the redline of 100,000. Now if the media would just stop making a nig splash with no proof. I am sure tht our government already made it plain what the US would do through a third party long ago and most recently. So there is no use to toot the horn so much.

We all want peace and not more war.

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