WASHINGTON – The United States and Jordan are reportedly discussing ways to secure what is believed to be Syria's substantial stockpile of chemical and biological weapons, in order to prevent them from falling into the hands of Hezbollah or al-Qaeda, should Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime come to its end.
Syria is believed to have one of the world's largest arsenals of nerve agents, including Sarin, cyanide, and mustard gas; and is one of only seven nations not to sign the 1992 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).
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According to a Friday report in the Wall Street Journal, the two nations' militaries are developing joint contingencies in wake of mounting concerns that – should Assad be toppled – various terror groups will try to acquire the country's WMDs.
According to the report, one plan may see Jordan's Special Forces, "Acting as part of any broader Arab League peacekeeping mission, go into Syria to secure nearly a dozen sites thought to contain weapons."
Several top-ranking Jordanian defense officials visited the Pentagon in February, to discuss the threat posed by Syrian weapons of mass destruction.
According to Pentagon sources quoted in the report, Washington and Amman "do not foresee unilateral commando raids inside Syria." Locating and securing weapon sites will, however, remain a key part of any peacekeeping mission in the country.
The threat posed by Syria's WMD caches has become one of the most pressing issues for the West vis-à-vis Damascus.
US experts on Syria's weapons program say that Damascus is storing its nonconventional weapons in nearly a dozen sites, largely in northern and central Syria. Some of these sites are in cities currently racked by violence, such as Hama and Homs.
US officials believe a UN Security Council resolution allowing outside intervention by Western powers in Syria remains impossible, saying that the Arab League would have a better chance at broker a peaceful diplomatic solution to the dire situation in Syria.
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