Syria:

In­tel­li­gence re­ports in­di­cate Syria may be ready­ing the weapons for use.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Kim­berly Dozier and Pauline Je­linek sec­re­tary of state Hil­lary clin­ton did not of­fer specifics.

The U.S. weighs mil­i­tary ac­tion and sends a clear warn­ing to As­sad’s regime that use of chem­i­cal weapons will bring con­se­quences.

WASHINGTON — The White House and its al­lies are weigh­ing mil­i­tary op­tions to se­cure Syria’s chem­i­cal and bi­o­log­i­cal weapons, af­ter U.S. in­tel­li­gence re­ports show the Syr­ian regime may be ready­ing those weapons and may be des­per­ate enough to use them, U.S. of­fi­cials said Mon­day.

Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, in a speech at the Na­tional De­fense Univer­sity on Mon­day, point­edly warned Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad not to use the weapons.

“To­day I want to make it ab­so­lutely clear to As­sad and those un­der his com­mand: The world is watch­ing,” Obama said. “The use of chem­i­cal weapons is and would be to­tally un­ac­cept­able. And if you make the tragic mis­take of us­ing th­ese weapons, there will be con­se­quences and you will be held ac­count­able.”

Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton, in Prague for meet­ings with Czech of­fi­cials, said she wouldn’t out­line any specifics.

“But suf­fice it to say, we are cer­tainly plan­ning to take ac­tion if that even­tu­al­ity were to oc­cur,” Clin­ton said.

Op­tions now be­ing con­sid­ered range from ae­rial strikes to lim­ited raids by regime was mov­ing the chem­i­cal weapons com­po­nents around within sev­eral of Syria’s chem­i­cal weapons sites in re­cent days, ac­cord­ing to a se­nior U.S. de­fense of­fi­cial and two U.S. of­fi­cials speak­ing on Mon­day. Two of­fi­cials said the ac­tiv­i­ties did not in­volve move­ment of com­po­nents in or out of var­i­ous sites, but the move­ment was con­fined to within the in­di­vid­ual lo­ca­tions.

One of the of­fi­cials said they were see­ing ac­tiv­i­ties they had not seen be­fore that bear fur­ther scru­tiny.

The of­fi­cials spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause they were not au­tho­rized to speak pub­licly about in­tel­li­gence mat­ters.

Ac­cord­ing to an­other se­nior U.S. of­fi­cial, the U.S is wor­ried about “indi­ca­tions of prepa­ra­tions” for a pos­si­ble use of the chem­i­cal weapons. The U.S. still doesn’t know whether the regime is plan­ning to use them, but the of­fi­cial says there is greater con­cern be­cause there is the sense that the As­sad regime is un­der greater pres­sure now.

U.S. in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials also in­ter­cepted one com­mu­ni­ca­tion within the past six months they be­lieve was be­tween Iran’s in­fa­mous Quds Force, urg­ing Syr­ian regime mem­bers to use its sup­plies of toxic Sarin gas against rebels and the civil­ians sup­port­ing them in the city of Homs, the former U.S. of­fi­cial said. That report was not matched by other in­tel­li­gence, and other in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials have said Iran also does not want the Syr­i­ans to use their chem­i­cal weapons. re­gional forces to se­cure the stock­piles, ac­cord­ing to one cur­rent U.S. of­fi­cial, and one former U.S. of­fi­cial. The of­fi­cials spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause they were not au­tho­rized to dis­cuss the mat­ter pub­licly.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion re­mains re­luc­tant to dis­patch U.S. forces into Syria, but a U.S. spe­cial op­er­a­tions train­ing team is in neigh­bor­ing Jor­dan, teach­ing troops there how to safely se­cure such sites to­gether with other troops from the re­gion, the of­fi­cials said.

The warn­ings come af­ter U.S. in­tel­li­gence de­tected signs the Syr­ian

LENS YONG HOMSI / AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Anti-Syr­ian regime mourn­ers carry the coffins of Syr­ian civil­ians killed by the shelling of forces loyal to pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad, in Homs, Syria on Mon­day. Fears have spread that a des­per­ate As­sad might un­leash chem­i­cal weapons.

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