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Syrian Resistance Develops Plan to Protect Chemical Arsenal: Report

Free Syrian Army fighters aim their guns last month in a neighborhood of Homs province. Syria’s opposition movement has developed plans to secure the nation's chemical arsenal within hours of the Assad regime's potential collapse, according to a high-profile resistance member (AP Photo). Free Syrian Army fighters aim their guns last month in a neighborhood of Homs province. Syria’s opposition movement has developed plans to secure the nation's chemical arsenal within hours of the Assad regime's potential collapse, according to a high-profile resistance member (AP Photo).

A prominent Syrian resistance member has said the Assad regime's opponents have developed a blueprint to take control of the nation's chemical stockpile in a fraction of a day after the government's possible collapse, Haaretz reported on Monday (see GSN, May 21).

“In addition to fighting the regime, there are a group of us preparing for the chaos that we know will ensue on the day the regime is toppled. We have committees dealing with a new constitution and elections, justice and the restoration of security,” the one-time Syrian army official said.

Syria's chemical warfare materials have emerged as a focus of the security panel, according to Haaretz. Militant groups such as Hezbollah could obtain substances from the stockpile, Israeli defense personnel have cautioned.

“We have divided the aftermath into four periods with different priorities for each day. The first period is the first day, the first hours after [President Bashar] Assad’s control breaks down, and one of the priorities during those hours is taking control of the chemical weapons so they won’t fall into the hands of terrorists,” said the Syrian resistance insider. The source maintains close ties with high-level military members, a number of whom have joined antigovernment forces.

Syria is believed to possess a sizable chemical arsenal encompassing nerve and blister agents, along with Scud missiles and other munitions that could be used to deliver the materials during conflict.

“We know the locations of the chemical weapon stores,” the source said, “and we will be ready to move and secure them quickly. I can’t promise that nothing will be removed but we have our information and it is not so simple to move around chemical weapons.”

The Syrian air force's intelligence branch oversees the nation's chemical arsenal sites, according to the report. Gen. Abdel-Fatah Qudsiyeh, who holds ultimate authority over the armaments, has led the regime's political enforcement arm for roughly three years and previously headed Syrian air force intelligence (Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz, May 28).

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