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Report: Syria arms missiles with chemical warheads

11 December 2011, Sunday / TODAY’S ZAMAN, İSTANBUL
The Syrian regime, which has endured nine months of civil unrest spurred by the Arab Spring as it swept across the Middle East, has armed its medium-range missile arsenal with chemical warheads.
According to a report published by the Sabah daily Sunday, Damascus armed 600 one-ton chemical warheads to use in the event of a foreign military intervention. Furthermore, President Bashar al-Assad ordered the deployment of 21 missile launchers along its border with Turkey. Syria’s medium-range missiles that can be equipped with chemical warheads have a range of up to 1,300 kilometers and would include the southern and central provinces of Turkey.

According to the daily, the Syrian military keeps its stockpile of chemical warheads in secret facilities in and around the capital city of Damascus. In mid-November, President Assad held a special meeting with top commanders of the Syrian army and argued over how to respond to a possible military intervention by the international community. Additionally, Russia, which stood by the Assad regime’s defiance of international pressure on Damascus, sent 3 million gas masks to the troubled country. Most of those masks will be distributed to the regime’s loyalists, the families of soldiers and Baath supporters. The distribution of the masks is set to be completed by the end of December, according to the daily.

Syria is believed to have had a chemical weapons arsenal for more than three decades. Following heavy defeats against Israel in conventional warfare, international defense sources believe that following the Yom Kippur War of 1973, Hafez al-Assad, the former general of the Syrian Air Force, decided to bolster Syria’s strategic position through the development of ballistic missiles to counter Israel’s superiority in conventional warfare. The unchallenged superiority Israeli air forces led Syrian generals to push for other means to protect the regime. From then on, Syria has launched clandestine efforts to develop chemical warheads with ballistic missile delivery systems.
http://www.todayszaman.com/newsDetail_ge...sId=265384
http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article....49025&R=R3
'Syria behind attack on French troops in Lebanon'
By REUTERS
12/11/2011 20:36

French FM Juppe says he believes roadside bomb which injured 5 French peacekeepers carried out by Hezbollah at Syria's urging.

France's Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said on Sunday Paris believed Syria was behind attacks on its troops in Lebanon earlier this week.

A roadside bomb wounded five French peacekeepers in southern Lebanon on Friday, in the third attack this year on United Nations forces deployed near the frontier with Israel.

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"We have strong reason to believe these attacks came from there (Syria)," Juppe said on RFI radio. "We think it's most probable, but I don't have proof."


France - with Britain, Germany and the United States - has been pushing for the UN Security Council to take up the issue of Syria again. In October, Russia and China vetoed a resolution that would have condemned Damascus' crackdown on pro-democracy protesters and threatened possible sanctions.

Paris is now pushing for the creation of humanitarian corridors to provide aid to the population.

When asked if he believed Hezbollah had carried out the attack on behalf of Damascus, Juppe said: "Absolutely. It is Syria's armed wing (in Lebanon)."

The attack follows attacks in May and July against French and Italian peacekeepers and comes as the United Nations prepares a review of its 12,000-strong operation, which was beefed up after Israel's 34-day war with Hezbollah in 2006.

Juppe called on the Lebanese government to ensure the safety of peacekeeers in the country and said the review at the UN assess the consequences of the attacks and redefine the objectives of the UNIFIL mission.

The UN Security Council agreed on Friday to France's request for a briefing on Syria's crackdown from the UN human rights chief, overcoming resistance from Russia, China and Brazil, Western envoys said.

Juppe said Syrian President Bashar Assad had lost all legitimacy and Paris was pushing Russia to change its stance at the United Nations where Moscow has refused to endorse any Security Council resolution against Syria.

"We are trying to convince Russia to get out of the isolation that it's put itself in," he said.
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