Report: U.S. Concerned over 'Hizbullah Camps' Near Syria Chemical Weapons Depotsإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
There is growing concern in the U.S. that Hizbullah has set up small training camps close to some of the chemical weapons depots in Syria, senior American officials said.
An alleged discovery that Hizbullah has established the camps close to some of the depots has renewed concern that as the chaos in Syria deepens, the country’s huge chemical weapons stockpiles could fall into “the wrong hands,” the officials told the New York Times.
Hizbullah fighters have been training at “a limited number of these sites,” said one senior American official who has been briefed on a U.S. Defense Department assessment that any military effort to seize the stockpiles of weapons would require more than 75,000 troops.
“But the fear these weapons could fall into the wrong hands is our greatest concern,” said the official.
So far, there is no evidence that Hizbullah, which is backed by the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, is making any effort to gain control over the chemical weapons, the New York Times said.
But some officials speculate that its alleged decision to train fighters close to the major chemical sites could be rooted in a bet that their camps will not be bombed if the West believes there is a risk of hitting the stockpiles.
Analysts expressed concern to the New York Times that if Assad is backed into a corner, he could use or threaten to use missiles tipped with chemical weapons against rebels, despite the threat of Western intervention if he did.
“There is credible information that the Assad regime has been upgrading and expanding its chemical weapons arsenal, which needs to be maintained,” said Emile Hokayem, a Middle East analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.