US draws up plans to counter Assad losing control of chemical weapons cache
The Obama administration has drawn up plans for responding to a possible scenario if Syria's weapons of mass destruction fall into the hands of Islamist extremists, rogue generals or other uncontrollable factions, a report has said.
The opposition Free Syrian Army said it did not find any chemical weapons at the first installation.
But the developments have fanned fears that even if Assad does not attack his own people with chemical weapons, he is on the verge of losing control of his formidable arsenal.
According to the Washington Post, the Pentagon has drawn up plans for responding to possible scenarios involving Syria's chemical arms, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said on Friday, but declined to give details.
Defense officials, however, said in interviews that they have been updating their contingency plans in recent weeks as chaos has overtaken Syria, the Post said.
According to the paper, the officials said that hey are working closely with Israel, Jordan and NATO allies, including Turkey, to monitor dozens of sites where Syria is suspected of keeping chemical arms and to coordinate options to intervene if necessary.
Pentagon officials have described their plans to members of Congress in classified briefings.
In public, military officials have indicated that they are preparing for potential joint operations with the Jordanian and Turkish armed forces, while sharing intelligence with Israel, the report said.
U.S. officials also have sought to enlist the cooperation of Russia, which has a close military relationship with Syria and helped develop its chemical weapons program decades ago, the report added.