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U.S. Might be Unable to Secure All Syrian Chem Stocks: Dempsey

By Diane Barnes

Global Security Newswire

WASHINGTON -- The top U.S. military official on Wednesday said he is not fully confident that armed intervention could secure Syria's entire chemical arsenal.

"They’ve been moving it and the number of sites is quite numerous,” U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey told the Senate Armed Services Committee in afternoon testimony.

Dempsey's warning echoed cautionary remarks issued last week by National Intelligence Director James Clapper. Syrian President Bashar Assad's embattled government is widely believed to hold hundreds of tons of blister and nerve agents.

“If we had confidence [that] the opposition ... could secure [Syria's chemical stockpile], then we could secure it," Dempsey said.

He added, though, that Syrian opposition forces have opposed any foreign military intervention in the country.

"If we had to go in there, it would be nonpermissive," Dempsey said.

Separately, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the Pentagon "is funding over $70 million for activities in Jordan, including providing training and equipment to detect and stop any [chemical weapons] transfer along its border with Syria."

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