Syria has begun removing chemical weapons from storage facilities, leading to fears Damascus may be preparing to use the weapons against rebels or as part of an ethnic cleansing campaign. However, others believe the regime of President Bashar al-Assad may be trying to safeguard the stockpiles of sarin nerve agent, mustard gas, and cyanide, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The development has prompted the Obama administration to hold classified briefings on the matter and officials are particularly worried about Syria’s stocks of sarin gas, the Journal reported. Syria called the allegations “ridiculous.”
“This is absolutely ridiculous and untrue,” Syria’s foreign ministry spokesman, Jihad Makdissi, said according to the Journal. “If the U.S. is so well-informed, why can’t they help [U.N. envoy] Kofi Annan in stopping the flow of illegal weapons to Syria in order to end the violence and move towards the political solution?”
Syria is not a signatory to the 1992 Chemical Weapons Convention and the nation is believed to hold one of the largest stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons in the Middle East. The country also has the capability of delivering chemical weapons in artillery shells and missiles.