Hours after the Syrian regime suffered its greatest setback in the yearlong civil war, the U.S. and U.K. defense chiefs feared that dictator Bashar Assad might use his stockpile of chemical weapons — the results of what may be the largest active chemical program on the planet. But because of the structure of Assad’s extensive chemical weapons effort, stopping him from using his weapons may not be possible, even if the U.S. military suddenly decided to openly intervene.
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Assad’s rule was “rapidly spinning out of control” after a suicide bomber in Damascus killed the defense minister and possibly other high-ranking security officials. But that raises questions about whether a desperate Assad would turn to his large stockpilesof sarin, VX and mustard gas in order to cling to power. Reportedly, Assad has begun moving his chemical weapons out of storage.
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