U.S. Official Warns Against Syrian Chemical Weapons
A U.S. intelligence official said that Syrian president’s Bashar al-Assad’s regime is crumbling, which may force the country’s “increasingly beleaguered” government to use chemical weapons to maintain authority on its people.
“The opposition is gaining in strength; it is gaining territory… at the same time, the regime is experiencing shortages in manpower and logistics,” said James R. Clapper, director of national intelligence, in a statement to the Senate Intelligence Committee Tuesday, where he testified together with the heads of the CIA, FBI and other intelligence organizations in an annual assessment of global threats.
Syria’s biological weapons program “may have advanced beyond the research and development stage,” and “could be modified for biological agent delivery,” Clapper added, according to the Washington Post.
Beyond Syria, according to Clapper, “the struggles of new governments in places like Tripoli and Sanaa to extend their writs, as well as the worsening internal conflict in Syria, have created opportunities for extremist groups… some transitioning governments are more skeptical than their predecessors about cooperating with the United States and are concerned about protecting sovereignty and resisting foreign interference.”
“This has the potential to hamper U.S. counterterrorism efforts and other initiatives to engage transitioning governments,” he said.