Secret Assad Forces have hidden chemical weapons throughout Syria, September 13, 2013, Elite Unit 450, 1000 metric tons of chemical and biological agents
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From Newsmax September 13, 2013.
“Secret Assad Forces Hiding Chemical Weapons”
“A secretive Syrian military unit has been moving stocks of poison gases and munitions to as many as 50 sites to make them harder for the U.S. to track, American and Middle Eastern officials said on Thursday.
The movements of chemical weapons by Syria’s elite Unit 450 could complicate any U.S. bombing campaign in Syria over its chemical attacks, the officials told The Wall Street Journal .
Further, the activity raises questions about the implementation of a Russian proposal that calls for the regime to surrender control of its stockpiles, they said.
The U.S. estimates Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime has 1,000 metric tons of chemical and biological agents.
“That is what we know about,” a senior U.S. official told the Journal. “There might be more.”
U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies said they still believe they know where most of the chemical weapons are located, but with less confidence than six months ago.”
“A division of the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center, Unit 450 manages the regime’s overall chemicals weapons program, according to the Journal. It has been moving the stocks around for months, officials and lawmakers briefed on the intelligence said.
Movements occurred as recently as last week, the officials told the Journal, after President Barack Obama said he was preparing to launch strikes.
The unit is in charge of mixing and deploying chemical munitions, and it provides security at chemical sites, according to U.S. and European intelligence agencies. It consists of officers from Assad’s Alawite sect.
One diplomat briefed on the unit told the Journal that it was Alawite from “janitor to commander.”
Meanwhile, U.S. military officials have investigated whether to gain influence over members of Unit 450 via inducements or threats.
“In a perfect world, you would actually like to co-opt that unit,” a senior U.S. military official told the Journal. “Who cares who pays them, as long as they sit on the chemical weapons?””