As part of its ongoing war maneuver, Syria Thursday, July 12, this week drilled the firing of advanced Scud D ballistic missiles capable of carrying chemical weapons and nerve gas – a clear message from Bashar Assad that weapons of mass destruction are now in play to save his regime.
American officials, alarmed by the movement out of storage of parts of his vast arsenal of sarin nerve agent, mustard gas and cyanide, warned it could escalate the Syrian conflict and expand it to other parts of the region. "This could set the precedent of WMD [weapons of mass destruction] being used under our watch," one U.S. official said. "This is incredibly dangerous to our national security." The Obama administration has begun to hold classified briefings about the new intelligence.
DEBKAfile’s military sources say that two developments drove the Syrian president Bashar Assad to this extreme threat:
1. The rebels were discovered to have procured roadside bombs capable of crippling the T-72 tank units he has just tried injecting into the battle for the first time this week. Tanks sent in long convoys into Aleppo and the suburbs of Damascus were blown up.
2. The balance of war has reached the point that the government controls only those parts of the country where heavy military or security forces contingents with massive fire power are deployed; elsewhere, the rebels have the upper hand.
In the course of its war exercise, the Syrians fired a selection of ground-to-ground missiles which they described as capable of “hitting targets deep within enemy territory.” Our military sources say all the Scuds, the M-600, Fateh-110 and Zelzal can reach any point in Israel. They also tested upgraded C-802 shore-to-ship rockets.
American officials revealed Thursday in Washington that “Syria has begun moving parts of its vast arsenal of chemical weapons out of storage facilities.” They didn’t say to where they were moved.
DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the missile warheads and shells containing poisonous weapons such as sarin, mustard gas and cyanide are being moved to specific Syrian units ahead of field operations.
Some US officials are quoted by The Wall Street Journal as fearing “Damascus intends to use the weapons against the rebels or civilians, potentially as part of a targeted ethnic cleansing campaign.” Others hope it is a feint to inspire fear. Whatever the case, the alarmed US official said in Washington: This could set the precedent of WMD [weapons of mass destruction] being used under our watch" and is "incredibly dangerous to our national security."