US, Israel talk of disposing of al-Assad's chemical weapons
From online dispatches
A handout picture released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) shows the launching of a rocket during Syrian army maneuvers. US officials fear that Bashar al-Assad may resort to use of chemical weapons out of desperation. AFP photo
Pentagon officials have met with Israeli defense officials to discuss a possible military operation to destroy Syria's stockpile of chemical weapons, the New York Times reported yesterday.
The talks were initiated after the Barack Obama administration officials started working on contingency plans following a possible collapse of the Syrian government. The work particularly focused on a large arsenal of chemical weapons the Syrian regime was thought to possess and its possible usage by President Bashar al-Assad against opposition forces and civilians, the report said.
The two sides discussed whether Israel would move in to destroy chemical weapons stockpiles and manufacturing facilities. The U.S. did not advocate the idea, officials said, as it could be used by al-Assad to rally support against Israeli interference.
Obama's national security adviser, Thomas Donilon, was in Israel and discussed the crisis in Syria with officials there, the White House reportedly said.
American diplomatic and military officials considered yesterday's bombing that killed top Syrian security officials to be a "turning point" in the conflict. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was quoted as saying that "al-Assad is a spent force in terms of history. He will not be a part of Syria's future."
U.S. officials have worried that al-Assad will use chemical weapons as a last resort to quell the uprising and have already begun planning what to do in the aftermath of al-Assad's expected fall from power.
“The Syrian government has a responsibility to safeguard its stockpiles of chemical weapons, and the international community will hold accountable any Syrian officials who fail to meet that obligation,” Carney said.