Syrian rebels on Saturday uploaded to YouTube a clip purportedly depicting victims of a chemical weapons attack perpetrated by the regime. The video shows Syrian civilians, some apparently dead and others injured, whose faces were disfigured in a manner that could be caused by a chemical agent.
The rebels claim that the video was filmed in a suburb of Aleppo, where the Syrian regime reportedly maintains its largest depot of chemical weapons.
Citing intelligence reports, British Foreign Secretary William Hague on Saturday warned that the Syrian government might use its sizable stockpile of chemical weapons against the rebels fighting to overturn Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime, AFP reported.
“We are extremely concerned about the stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, and we are also concerned about evidence during the last couple of weeks that the regime could use them,” Hague said on the sidelines of a regional security conference in Manama, the capital of Bahrain.
The London-based Sunday Times reported that Israeli commandos were on the ground in Syria, monitoring the regime’s chemical weapons depots.
“For years we’ve known the exact location of Syria’s chemical and biological munitions,” an Israeli source said was quoted as saying. “But in the past week we’ve got signs that munitions have been moved to new locations.”
On Saturday, the Free Syrian Army announced that it had captured trucks belonging to the regime on the road leading to the Damascus international airport. The rebels claimed that some of the equipment they captured was meant to protect Syrian army soldiers from the effects of chemical weapons.
On Wednesday, the London Times reported that the US, along with several key allies, was prepared to launch a military intervention in Syria should the Assad government resort to using chemical weapons against the rebels.
A military source told the Times that US forces could be ready “rapidly, within days,” if Syrian chemical weapons were activated, and implied that the necessary forces were already in the region.
“It won’t require major movement to make action happen. The muscle is already there to be flexed,” the source said. “It’s premature to say what could happen if a decision is made to intervene. That hasn’t taken shape, we’ve not reached that kind of decision. There are a lot of options, but it [military action] could be launched rapidly, within days.”
The fate of Syria’s chemical weapon stockpiles, believed to be the third-largest in the world, is emerging as a key international issue as the civil war continues to generate chaos.
Israel is particularly concerned that Syrian chemical and biological weapons could fall into the hands of terrorists and be used against the Jewish state.