US forces in the region, Israel, Turkey and Jordan were all braced Monday night, Dec. 3 for action against Syria in case Syrian President Bashar Assad ordered his army’s chemical warfare units to go into action against rebel and civilian targets his own country. None of the Middle East capitals are talking openly about this eventuality to avoiding causing panic.
However, oblique references to the peril and preparations for action came from US officials during Monday. White House spokesman Jay Carney said: “We have an increased concern about the possibility of the regime taking the desperate act of using its chemical weapons.” Such a move “would cross a red line for the United States.”
Without going into specifics, Carney added: “We think it is important to prepare for all scenarios. Contingency planning is the responsible thing to do.”
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Prague was slightly more specific: Syrian action on chemical weapons remains a “red line” for the Obama administration, she said, and “would prompt action from the United States.”
Regarding contingencies, DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the American force in Jordan and Jordanian units, who have been training for two months in tactics against Syrian chemical warfare units, are on a high state of preparedness. So, too, are the three special US command centers set up in Turkey, Jordan and Israel for coordinating such operations.
An American official “with knowledge of the situation” told Wired Magazine that “engineers working for the Assad regime in Syria have begun combining the two chemical precursors needed to weaponize sarin gas.”