Hints of Syrian Chemical Push Set Off Global Effort to Stop It

(New York Times) Eric Schmitt and David E. Sanger - In the last days of November, Israel's top military commanders called the Pentagon to discuss troubling satellite imagery: Syrian troops appeared to be mixing chemicals at two storage sites, probably the deadly nerve gas sarin, and filling dozens of 500-pound bombs that could be loaded on airplanes. The munitions were loaded onto vehicles near Syrian air bases. In briefings, administration officials were told that if Assad ordered the weapons to be used, they could be airborne in less than two hours - too fast for the U.S. to act. What followed next, officials said, was a remarkable show of international cooperation. After a public warning by President Obama and more sharply worded private messages sent to the Syrian leader through Russia, Iraq, Turkey and possibly Jordan, the Syrians stopped the chemical mixing and the bomb preparation. But concern remains that Assad could now use the weapons produced that week at any moment.

2013-01-08 00:00:00

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