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Turkey, U.S. Strategize on Responding to Syrian Chemical Weapons Strike

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Saturday in Istanbul. Washington and Ankara are coordinating closely on how they would respond if the Syrian government employed chemical weapons against domestic opposition forces, according to a news report (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin). U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Saturday in Istanbul. Washington and Ankara are coordinating closely on how they would respond if the Syrian government employed chemical weapons against domestic opposition forces, according to a news report (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin).

Turkey and the United States are in close coordination on how they would respond to a possible use of chemical weapons by the Bashar Assad regime in Syria against domestic opposition elements, the Associated Press reported on Sunday (see GSN, Aug. 8).

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said their governments would establish a special joint team to handle fallout from the ongoing uprising in Syria, which has seen a marked uptick in violence in recent weeks. The bilateral working group is to develop contingency plans for data collection, armed forces activities, and diplomatic engagement in the event that chemical weapons such as mustard gas or sarin nerve agent are used.

"We have been closely coordinating over the course of this conflict, but now we need to get into the real details of such operational planning," Clinton said from Istanbul. "It needs to be across both of our governments."

Included in Ankara and Washington's discussion of possible crises they might have to deal with is "the horrible event" of a chemical attack, according to the Obama administration's top diplomat.

The two sides discussed "what would that mean in terms of response, humanitarian and medical emergency assistance and, of course, what needs to be done to secure those stocks from ever being used or falling into the wrong hands," she said.

Damascus recently pledged it would not use weapons of mass destruction against domestic opposition but left open the possibility of chemical strikes to ward off foreign parties seeking to intervene in the 17-month conflict. It subsequently sought to walk back from what appeared to be the first open confirmation of Syrian military biological and chemical weapons programs.

Syria is understood to posses hundreds of tons of chemical warfare materials that could be delivered by a variety of means including compact rockets, air-dropped bombs, and ballistic missiles (Matthew Lee, Associated Press/Google News, Aug. 12).

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