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Syrian Defector: Assad Moved Chemical Weapons, Hiding Sites

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A defector from the Syrian army claims to know that the Assad regime used chemical weapons and has already begun moving them. The testimony is another indication that the Syrian dictatorship does not intend to dismantle the entirety of its chemical weapons capabilities and may be following a Russian plan to deceive the world.

Syrian Brigadier-General Zaher al-Sakat was reportedly a specialist in the 5th Army and oversaw the regime’s chemical weapons in the area of Deraa. After he defected, he said he defied orders to use chemical weapons three times. He instead filled the delivery systems with bleach.

He defected to Jordan after his supervisors began questioning why the death tolls from the attacks were so low. He believes that chemical weapons were used at least 34 times.

Al-Sakat says Assad will partially dismantle his WMD infrastructure by giving up sites that he knows Western intelligence is aware of.

“The locations of most of the scientific research centers in Syria and the storage facilities are known and under surveillance, thus, he will give up those centers and facilities for sure without lying,” he said.

According to the defector, Assad has four secret sites inside Syria to hide chemical weapons. That claim is substantiated by the fact that U.S. and Israeli intelligence believe Syria’s declaration of its chemical weapons stockpile is incomplete.

The Assad regime declared 30 chemical weapons sites, but the U.S. believes the real number is over 50. An unnamed U.S. official said that Syria may argue that its definition of what qualifies as a “weapon” is different.

Though Syria is believed to have over 1,000 tons of chemical agents, the U.S. believes the majority of the nerve gas agents are still in the form of precursor chemicals. These are ingredients that need to be mixed and prepped to become a weapon. Assad may be trying to preserve the capability to quickly create a stockpile.

Al-Sakat says Assad also sent WMD to Hezbollah in Lebanon and to Iran via Iraq. He told the Telegraph that the transfers began before the Russian-endorsed WMD deal was announced.

Al-Sakat claims that rebel forces discovered “28 eight large trucks moving from Jdeedet Yabous, toward Lebanon, then to Hezbollah, which were heavily guarded. They also found in the Frouqlus area more than 50 large Mercedes and Volvo trucks, also heavily guarded, moving in the direction of Iraq.”

The rebels declined to assault the convoys because of fears that it would release the chemical agents.

On September 20, the Washington Free Beacon reported that multiple sources had confirmed that Hezbollah is in possession of Syrian chemical weapons in Lebanon.  Two members of Syria’s parliament also made the allegation.

Kamal al-Labwani, a Syrian opposition leader opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood, said the same thing, adding the detail that the WMD are being hidden in trucks filled with vegetables. He said that some chemical weapons are also being placed onboard Russian ships.

On September 18, the Clarion Project explained that Syria is likely following a Russian plan that means in “Operation Emergency Exit” in English. Part of the plan includes cleansing Russia’s third world ally of WMD and other incriminating material.

Bashar Assad has lied about killing his own people, building nuclear weapons, killing U.S. soldiers and Iraqis and the list goes on. We can’t expect a maniacal dictator to honestly disarm his WMD when he lies more often than he tells the truth.

 

Ryan Mauro is the ClarionProject.org’s National Security Analyst, a fellow with the Clarion Project and is frequently interviewed on top-tier TV stations as an expert on counterterrorism and Islamic extremism.

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Meira Svirsky

Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org