U.S. planning for possibility that Assad could lose control of chemical weapons

A former Syrian general who once led the army’s chemical weapons training program said the main storage sites for mustard gas and nerve agents are supposed to be guarded by thousands of Syrian soldiers, but he predicted that they would be easily overrun.

“They’re not secure,” retired Maj. Gen. Adnan Silou, who defected to the opposition in June, said in an interview near Turkey’s border with Syria. “Probably anyone from the Free Syrian Army or any Islamic extremist group could take them over.”…

Pentagon officials have described their contingency planning to members of Congress in classified briefings. In public, military officials have indicated that they are preparing for potential joint operations with the Jordanian and Turkish armed forces, while sharing intelligence with Israel. U.S. officials have also sought to enlist the cooperation of Russia, which has a close military relationship with Syria and helped develop its chemical weapons program decades ago.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government and some European allies have hired private contractors to train Syrian rebels in how to monitor and secure chemical weapons sites should Assad abandon or lose control of any of his stocks, according to CNN.