Syrian opposition claims it can produce, use chemical weapons
Damaged buildings are seen along a desolate street on the front line after several weeks of intense battles between opposition fighters and troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the Amarya district of Aleppo. (Photo: AP, Narciso Contreras)
The political adviser of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) has claimed that the Syrian opposition is capable of putting together components of chemical weapons and using them if necessary.
Bassam Al-Dada told Turkey's state-run Anatolia news agency on Wednesday that the Syrian opposition has the necessary capability and raw materials to produce chemical weapons.
He said if Syria's embattled President Bashar al-Assad threatens the Syrian opposition fighters with chemical weapons, he should know that “we also possess them.”
Noting that they have the ability to put together components to produce chemical weapons thanks to defected army officers who are experts in this regard, al-Dada added that they won't use them if the Syrian regime avoids using them. “If we ever use them, we will only hit the regime's bases and centers,” he stressed.
Last month, Syria's UN ambassador, Bashar Ja'afari, warned that extremist groups could use chemical weapons against the Syrian people and blame the government. He said the Syrian government is "genuinely worried" that foreign countries could provide chemical weapons to armed groups "and then claim they had been used by the Syrian government."
Although the West has shown little desire to intervene in Syria, US President Barack Obama has said the regime's use of chemical weapons against the opposition fighters would be a "red line" and change his "calculus" about the conflict.
As the prospect of intervention gains traction, the Syrian government has been careful to never actually confirm it has chemical weapons and is instead trying to raise fears it may be framed by opposition fighters using such weapons to spur an outside attack.
Recent US intelligence reports, however, showed the Syrian regime may be readying its chemical weapons and could be desperate enough to use them.
The Syrian uprising started in March 2011 as peaceful protests but quickly turned into a civil war after the government's brutal crackdown on dissent. Activists say more than 40,000 people have been killed.