Syria may be preparing to deploy chemical weapons
Administration issues stern warning of crossing the red line.
President Obama is warning Syria that any use of chemical weapons would be met with severe consequences. New reports say that Syria may be preparing to deploy chemical weapons in a last-ditch effort to stop the building rebel momentum.
Sarin gas could be swiftly delivered by Assad's artillery batteries.
However, the evidence is unmistakable, the weapons are being moved.
The Syrian Foreign Ministry denies they intend to use chemical weapons and continues to reiterate their promise never to do so.
However, at least one U.S. official who has direct knowledge of Syrian intelligence, leaked to the media that Syrian forces are combining the requisite chemicals to make sarin gas, a deadly nerve agent. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity added, the development signals intent to make the weapons ready for use.
The source reinforced that nobody is certain just what the regime intends to do with the weapons.
The administration is taking no chances however, issuing a stern warning to Syrian government officials and President Assad. "I want to make it absolutely clear to Assad and those under his command -- the world is watching. The use of chemical weapons is and would be totally unacceptable. And if you make the tragic mistake of using these weapons, there will be consequences and you will be held accountable," Obama said during a speech yesterday at the National Defense University in Washington.
The use of chemical weapons has been described publicly as a "red line" by the administration.
It is unclear what the U.S. and other countries would do if the Syrian regime were to cross the "red line" however it would present a test of international credibility. The same "red line" rhetoric has been used in reference to Iran's efforts to possibly produce a nuclear weapon.
Any crossing of a "red line" would require a robust response by the administration whose credibility would be sorely tested. However, planners say for any plan to be effective, it would require the deployment of tens of thousands of troops on the ground, potentially involving the U.S. in another war.
At the same time, a weak response would be seen as only encouraging other states, such as Iran, who seek to undermine U.S. influence in the region.
For now, there are no specifics and no evidence that chemical weapons have yet been used, but if they are, it will create a dilemma for the administration, and worse, a humanitarian tragedy of epic proportions in Syria.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Red line, Syria, chemical weapons, Sarin
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