U.S. officials confirm to FOX News that the Syrian military is preparing chemical weapons, more specifically the deadly sarin gas. The components of the nerve agent have been loaded into bombs and await orders from President Bashar al-Assad.
As a nerve agent, sarin gas makes the human body begin to shut down, eventually slowing and stopping breathing. It was developed as a chemical weapon in the 1950?s, and used during Iraq-Iran war in the 1980?s and as part of terrorist attacks in Japan in the mid-90?s. A shell containing unmixed sarin gas agents was detonated in Iraq in 2004, injuring two U.S. servicemembers.
Wired’s “Danger Room” blog reports Syria has begun making preparations to weaponize sarin gas for possible use, a potentially dangerous development that has the U.S. and Syria’s neighbors very worried. Noah Shachtman and Spencer Ackerman report (emphasis added):
Engineers working for the Assad regime in Syria have begun combining the two chemical precursors needed to weaponize sarin gas, an American official with knowledge of the situation tells Danger Room. International observers are now more worried than they’ve even been that the Damascus government could use its nerve agent stockpile to slaughter its own people.
The U.S. doesn’t know why the Syrian military made the move, which began in the middle of last week and is taking place in central Syria. Nor are they sure why the Assad government is transferring some weapons to different locations within the country, as the New York Times reported on Monday.
All that’s certain is that the arms have now been prepped to be used, should Assad order it.
“Physically, they’ve gotten to the point where the can load it up on a plane and drop it,” the official adds.
On Monday, President Barack Obama warned of consequences should Syria’s President Bashar Assad decide to use chemical weapons against forces fighting his rule.
“I want to make it absolutely clear to Assad and those under his command: The world is watching,” Obama said. “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,” he added.