In the last days of November 2012, the IDF recieved intelligence that Syrian troops appeared to be mixing chemicals at two storage sites, probably the deadly nerve gas sarin, and filling dozens of bombs that could be loaded on airplanes, the New York Times reported Monday .
The newspaper further said that IDF top commanders informed the Pentagon, and within hours President Obama was notified. The alarm grew over the weekend, as the munitions were loaded onto vehicles near Syrian air bases.
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In briefings, administration officials were told that if Syrian President Bashar Assad, ordered the weapons to be used, they could be airborne in less than two hours — too fast for the United States to act.
Sent a public warning. President Obama (Photo: MCT)
What followed next, according to the newspaper, was a remarkable show of international cooperation over a civil war in which the US, Arab states, Russia and China have almost never agreed on a common course of action.
What will happen if he is cornernered? Assad (Photo: AFP)
The combination of a public warning by Obama and more sharply worded private messages sent to the Syrian leader and his military commanders through Russia and others, including Iraq, Turkey and possibly Jordan, stopped the chemical mixing and the bomb preparation, the New York Times said.
“I think the Russians understood this is the one thing that could get us to intervene in the war,” one senior defense official said last week.
“What Assad understood, and whether that understanding changes if he gets cornered in the next few months, that’s anyone’s guess.”
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