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En Route to Mideast, JCS Chairman Underscores Collaboration on Syria Intel

Syrian rebels open fire on government forces during a Monday battle in Aleppo. The United States has worked with Syria's neighbors in efforts to track movements of the country's chemical arms, according to the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff (AP Photo/Aleppo Media Center). Syrian rebels open fire on government forces during a Monday battle in Aleppo. The United States has worked with Syria's neighbors in efforts to track movements of the country's chemical arms, according to the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff (AP Photo/Aleppo Media Center).

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff began a weeklong trip to the Middle East on Monday, saying that the United States has been aided by regional intelligence efforts in locating Syria's chemical weapons cache, the New York Times reported.

Gen. Martin Dempsey went on to say the deadly arsenal is moved "from time to time," apparently so that the Syrian government can prevent rebels from capturing the weapons.

"Possibly the single point of greatest collaboration with Israel, Jordan and the United States is in identifying the potential chemical threat, its location, trying to determine the intentions of the Syrian regime," Dempsey said. "It appears the regime is moving it to secure it. But that could change."

Meanwhile, the United Nations said on Tuesday that it is still in the negotiating process with Damascus after the two sides failed to reach an agreement on safety assurances for the U.N. chemical-weapons inspection team, Reuters reported.

"Once the government of Syria confirms its acceptance of the modalities, the mission will depart without delay," said the United Nations in a statement.

"Over the weekend, the investigation team led by Dr. Ake Sellstrom completed all necessary logistical arrangements for its visit to Syria," the international organization said.

"In the meantime, the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Angela Kane, has continued her consultations with the government of Syria with a view to reaching agreement as soon as possible on the modalities essential for cooperation to ensure the proper, safe and efficient conduct of the mission," the United Nations said.

The trip was postponed indefinitely on Monday after encountering logistical impediments.

It was also revealed on Tuesday that Syrian rebels -- who have long urged the West to provide them with arms -- had reached a military support deal with Sudan's government, and had already received shipments, the New York Times reported.

Western officials and Syrian opposition forces have not publicly acknowledged the military aid, under which rebels have received antiaircraft missiles and small-arms rounds. Munitions from the shipments have been observed on the battlefield, and have helped Syrian militants fight against the heavier firepower of the Syrian government, the Times reported.   

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NTI Analysis

  • Disarming Syria of Its Chemical Weapons: Lessons Learned from Iraq and Libya

    Oct. 31, 2013

    This CNS issue brief examines the lessons learned from dismantling Libya and Iraq's chemical weapons programs and what these two cases presage for disarmament in Syria. In particular, this article explores the challenges relating to ensuring material and physical security for both inspectors and the chemical weapons stockpile itself; verifying the accuracy and completeness of disclosed inventories; and developing effective monitoring and verification regimes for the long-term. The conclusion examines recommendations stemming from this analysis.

Country Profile

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Syria

This article provides an overview of Syria's historical and current policies relating to nuclear, chemical, biological and missile proliferation.

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