Obama administration sends CIA officers to find biological and chemical weapons in Syria

American official tells The Daily Beast that US government looking to obtain information from military defectors, intercepted correspondences

Syrian President Bashar Assad delivers a speech at the parliament in Damascus, Syria, in June (photo credit: SANA/AP)
Syrian President Bashar Assad delivers a speech at the parliament in Damascus, Syria, in June (photo credit: SANA/AP)

The Obama administration has sent CIA officers to Syria in order to assess the country’s weapons program, a US official with access to Syrian intelligence said.

A major task for the CIA at this point, he told The Daily Beast, is to debrief defecting military officers to obtain as much information as possible regarding Syria’s weapons of mass destruction.

The official said that it is also up to the intelligence agency to sort through caches of intercepted phone calls, emails and satellite images to find the exact locations of the Assad regime’s chemical and biological weapons.

Rep. Mike Rogers, the Republican chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, would not comment on whether or not CIA officers had been sent to the region. However he said that the administration had recently deployed “the resources necessary to collect the information that we need to make a good decision on chemical and biological [weapons], opposition groups and leadership transition strategies.”

A CIA spokesman also declined to comment on any mission to Syria.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Channel 10 on Friday that Israel was watching out for “the possible transfer of advanced weapons systems, mainly anti-aircraft missiles or heavy ground-to-ground missiles, but there could also be a transfer of chemical capabilities from Syria to Lebanon.” Barak said he was worried that such weapons would fall into the hands of Lebanon-based terror organization Hezbollah.

Roni Daniel, a military analyst on Israel’s most-watched news station Channel 2, said Friday that Israel “will have to strike” at Syrian weapons shipments if they are being transferred to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Daniel downplayed the possibility that such a strike would lead to a wider conflict between Israel and its neighbors.

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