US, British armies make contingency plans to seize Syria's chemical weapons

Last Updated: Sun, Feb 24, 2013 05:42 hrs

London: American and British military commanders have planned to seize or destroy Syria's chemical weapons if the country slides into further chaos.

They fear that nerve agents and chemical weapons held by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad's regime could fall into terrorists' hands if the government collapses entirely.

According to the Telegraph, senior officers have also held talks on a range of 'rogue state' contingency plans to prevent chemical, biological or nuclear weapons from being seized by terrorists.

British intelligence believes Syria has amassed an extensive arsenal of WMD, including nerve agents such as Sarin, one of the most deadly weapons ever created, and chemical weapons such as mustard gas.

They have so far not been used and are currently considered to be well guarded by the Syrian security forces, the report said.

Intelligence sources said that militant Islamist groups, however, were already in Syria fighting against the government and would be prepared to raid WMD stockpiles.

Sources have said that the most likely option to prevent WMD falling into the hands of extremists would be to destroy stockpiles in a series of air strikes.

Alternative options include the using special forces and troops trained in chemical warfare to secure WMD sites in Syria if and when the government eventually collapses.

An RAF Regiment unit called the Defence Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear Wing based at Winterbourne Gunner, Wilts, has already been warned to be prepared to work alongside the SAS in securing WMD sites in the Syria at short notice, it added. 

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