By Liana B. Baker, 3 August 2012, Source: blogs.reuters.com
The Free Syrian Army (FSA) has now acquired chemical weapons from Libya, Reuter’s Khaled Oweis reports from Amman. It was previously thought that Ghaddafi’s weapons had been dismantled, however usage by Libyan rebels has proven otherwise. His stockpile is thought to contain mustard gas and sarin, two dangerous agents that can induce death or permanently disabilities along large areas.
This dangerous development occurs as public opinion seems to be turning against the rebels, due to attacks on Sunni tribal elders in Aleppo, a city that has been the stronghold of support for the government. The rebels earlier promised to turn the city into the “grave of the tribes” according to one rebel leader, a reprisal against the Berri clan that has been actively fighting them alongside government forces.
Photographs from Aleppo seem to show rebels donning chemical weapons mask, others showing others in fresh unopened packaging, such as the M-42A1 gas mask. It is unlikely that the rebels have captured these masks from Syrian storage areas as they are manufactured in the United States, suggesting they may be part of the non-lethal aid that the Obama administration has tasked the CIA in handling to the rebels.
It is feared that these weapons may fall into the hands of Al Qaeda on transit from Turkey, potentially entering Europe placing the entire continent at risk from catastrophic attack. Al Qaeda and the Free Syrian Army have been fighting primarily from Turkish territory, the former having no official support from Turkey, however have been using western equipment, including 24 MANPADs suggesting some material support.