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January 11, 2013 8:59 am
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US General: Preventing Syrian Use of Chemical Weapons “Almost Unachievable”

avatar by Max Elstein Keisler

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Chemical weapons collected after Libya's National Transitional Council declared full liberation of the country. Similar weapons are believed to be inside Syria. Photo: Giovanni Diffidenti.

“The act of preventing the use of chemical weapons [by Syria] would be almost unachievable,” according to U.S. General Martin Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. A month ago, the U.S. acted decisively after intelligence learned that Assad’s forces were mixing the precursors for sarin gas, as well as loading bombs with the chemical weapon. But stopping a chemical weapons attack, Dempsey says, would require “such clarity of intelligence, persistent surveillance, you’d have to actually see it before it happened. And that’s unlikely, to be sure.”

President Obama has publicly defined use of chemical weapons by Assad as a “red line” that would change his “calculus” in the region, implying it would put more direct U.S. intervention on the table.

Israeli military and political figures have expressed deep concern about the Syrian chemical weapons arsenal. Major General Yair Naveh said that “What the Syrians are doing to their people, they would do to us if they had a chance.” The UN estimates the death toll of the civil war in Syria to be at least 60,000. An average of approximately 2,727 deaths a month. At present, the United Nations Security Council has been unable to agree on a course of action.

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