The  Cry  For  WMD  Again?  Iraq Redux, Anyone?

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US Troops Mass on Turkey’s Syrian Border

 

UPI

In this Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012 photo, smoke rises from residential buildings due heavy fighting between Free Syrian Army fighters and government forces in Aleppo, Syria.

Some 400 U.S. and Dutch NATO troops were massed on Turkey’s Syrian border Friday amid fears besieged President Bashar Assad was poised to use chemical weapons.

The soldiers were beefing up Turkey’s border and readying Patriot missiles three days after NATO agreed to deploy the MIM-104 Patriot surface-to-air missile system in Turkey. Ankara had requested the installations as a defense against a Syrian missile attack, possibly with chemical weapons.

“Nobody knows what such a regime is capable of and that is why we are acting protectively here,” German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said of NATO’s move.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Thursday the latest intelligence reports heightened fears Assad would use chemical weapons on the rebels trying to oust him.

“The intelligence that we have raises serious concerns that this is being considered,” he said.

Over four decades, Syria has amassed one of the largest undeclared stockpiles of chemicals in the world, including huge supplies of mustard gas, sarin nerve agent and cyanide, the CIA says.

Syria denounced the NATO action and the U.S. and German statements.

Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Miqdad told pro-Assad Lebanese satellite TV station al-Manar, affiliated with the Shiite militant group Hezbollah: “Syria stresses again, for the 10th, the 100th time, that if we had such [chemical] weapons, they would not be used against its people. We would not commit suicide.”

Miqdad accused the United States and pro-opposition European countries of “conspiring” to create the impression the Assad regime would use chemical weapons to justify an intervention.

The high-stakes actions came as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton held a surprise meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and U.N.-Arab League special envoy on Syria Lakhdar Brahimi to broker a deal that would lead to Assad’s ouster and a transitional government’s installation.

 

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‘US to send sophisticated arms to militants in Syria’

File photo

The United States is reportedly planning to send sophisticated weapons to foreign-sponsored militants fighting the Syrian government.

Washington has already admitted to providing logistical and communication assistance to militants in Syria, but now there reports of a covert US plan to practically arm them.

The recent reports said a wide range of modern weapons would be sent to Syria through Washington’s regional allies, such as Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.

According to diplomatic sources, Americans have bought some of the weapons, including Russian-made Strela 2 missiles, from the stockpiles of slain Libyan dictator Muammar Ghaddafi. Strela 2 or SA-7 is a man-portable, shoulder-fired, low-altitude surface-to-air missile system.

The Syrian government has repeatedly criticized the US and its regional allies, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey, for funding and arming anti-Damascus militants.

The US has already provided some USD 25 million to armed groups in Syria, calling it non-lethal aid to help them purchase communications devices.

Syria has been the scene of unrest since March 2011, and many people, including large numbers of security forces, have lost their lives in the violence.

Syria says that the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of militants fighting the Syrian government are foreign nationals.

Western states have been calling for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s removal from power. However, Russia and China are strongly opposed to the Western drive to oust the Syrian head of state.

GJH/HN

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