What comes first – a Syrian chemical attack or a US-led military showdown?

Anti-contamination gear for chemical warfare

Anti-contamination gear for chemical warfare

For the past week, US officials have kept up a flow of leaks to the media suggesting that Syrian President Bashar Assad was on the verge of ordering his army to unleash chemical weapons. The details built up as the week went by, starting with the detection of “unusual movements” of Syrian chemical weapons units, advancing to reports that the Syrians were “mixing precursor chemicals” for the nerve gas sarin and on Thursday, Dec. 6, that bombs had been made ready with sarin gas for loading onto Syrian Air Force fighter-bombers when Assad gave the word.

Saturday, Dec. 8, British Foreign Secretary William Hague reported evidence from intelligence sources that Syria is preparing to use chemical weapons. British intelligence sources added that Syria’s chemical weapons are concentrated at five air bases and are being closely watched. They said contingency plans have been drawn up if they show signs of being readied to be loaded and used as weapons.

Who are the close watchers and what are the contingency plans?

In its last issue, DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s military sources disclosed that US, Israeli, Jordanian and Turkish special forces are spread out on the ground in Syria, armed with special gear for combating chemical arms. They are close enough to count the convoys carrying canisters, shells or bombs loaded with poison gas and their reports are supplemented by orbiting US military surveillance satellites and drones able to pinpoint the position of the chemical munitions at any given moment.

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