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According to reports in the Turkish media, the Turkish-government-run Anadolu Agency (AA) has reported in its Arabic language service that in an interview it conducted with Bassam al-Dada*, a political analyst for the opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA), Mr. al-Dada stated that the FSA has the capability to produce and use chemical weapons.

Mr. al-Dada is reported to have said that if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad threatens the FSA with chemical weapons he needs to know that the FSA also has these weapons.

Mr. al-Dada is also reported to have said that the FSA had the materials necessary to produce chemical weapons, that the FSA acquired the expertise to produce chemical weapons from officers who had defected from the Syrian military, that if Syrian government forces didn't use chemical weapons the FSA would not use them, and that if the FSA used chemical weapons they would use them against government bases and centers.

When asked about possible international public opinion backlash if the FSA were to use chemical weapons, Mr. al-Dada is reported to have responded "If Bashar uses these weapons against us, will international public opinion protect us?".

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Turkey shares a very long border with Syria, along several sections of which - primarily in the northwest - quite a lot of fighting in Syria occurs. Recently chemical weapons in Syria have been the subject of some discussion here, and several Turkish government officials have stated that they believe that one of the greatest threats to Turkey's security from the current unrest in Syria is chemical weapons.

These include Turkey's being hit either accidently or deliberately by chemical weapons, the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria which could cause hundreds of thousands - or millions - of Syrians to flee across the border, or the acquisition in Syria of chemical weapons by groups which then might use them against Turkey.

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Coverage in Turkish by CNNTürk

Coverage in Turkish by Hürriyet

Coverage in English by Today's Zaman

This was also covered in English by the Fars News Agency

* I have noticed that Mr. al-Dada's name is spelled several different ways.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (13+ / 0-)

    Lamb chop, we can quibble what to call it, but I think we can both agree it's creepy.

    by InAntalya on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 08:08:11 AM PST

  •  What is FSA? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    InAntalya, Jeffersonian Democrat

    Probably Free Syria something?

    The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right. -- Judge Learned Hand, May 21, 1944

    by ybruti on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 08:32:30 AM PST

  •  Has the "Restore the Ottoman Empire" (0+ / 0-)

    trend disappeared in Turkey? Haven't been following it but remember it was a growing wish in 2001.

    Probably the West's biggest mistake in the 20th Century was dismembering it.


    The Internet is just the tail of the Corporate Media dog.

    by Jim P on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 09:20:31 AM PST

    •  There are some in Turkey (and also possibly (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      subtropolis

      outside of Turkey) who believe that the current Turkish Government has a strong desire to restore the Ottoman Empire's (now Turkey's) influence over other countries in the region and that this is the driving reason behind the government's efforts to remove President al-Assad from power in Syria and replace him with a group - the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood - with which it (the AKP and its predecessors) has had close relations which extend back to at least the 1970s.

      Lamb chop, we can quibble what to call it, but I think we can both agree it's creepy.

      by InAntalya on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 10:57:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  No. Empires don't work well. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      InAntalya
  •  Working that chemical weapon angle hard. (3+ / 0-)

    All sorts of reports in the news of Assad using chemical weapons, rebels threatening to use them, nebulous statements like " we got the expertise from defecting Syrian military".  Sounds all too familiar.
    Regardless, Syria and it's people are in big trouble.

    "The Global War on Terror is a justification for U.S. Imperialism. It must be stopped."

    by BigAlinWashSt on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 09:28:19 AM PST

    •  There are legitimate concerns that the (3+ / 0-)

      Turkish Government and Turkish military need to consider and prepare for but I too have noticed that there has been quite a lot of working of the chemical weapon angle recently.

      In Turkey there was initially a lot of this working of the angle but the public didn't buy it and now it seems that Turkey is in a 'we need to keep ourselves aware of developments and make appropriate plans and preparations' mode.  

      Lamb chop, we can quibble what to call it, but I think we can both agree it's creepy.

      by InAntalya on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 10:23:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Perfect - what could possibly go wrong? :( (3+ / 0-)

    This is not a step forward, IMO.  But I also can't see any path that leads to a reasonably peaceful and prosperous Syria anytime soon at this point.

  •  What seems rather strange (3+ / 0-)

    (and was noted at Angry Arab today) is that al-Dada seems to have resigned in August, yet he is still going around making statements. But it's hard to take seriously the spokespeople for the FSA or SNC since they are often contradicted later by their superiors so unity/consistency is not their strong point.

    It's difficult to judge the veracity of the claim but it makes sense that since chem weapons are a red line, the armed opposition, seeking more support to overthrow Assad, would seek those capabilities. So far opposition reports that the Assad regime has used chem weapons have proven unfounded. But I'd be concerned if chem weapons got into opposition hands since I doubt they would have the knowledge and training in how to use them. I've heard many reports of FSA troops blowing themselves up while making or setting up IEDs and chem weapons so I'm not too confident of their abilities with more dangerous weapons. Which just makes the situation more frightening.

  •  Slightly off-topic (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    InAntalya, angry marmot

    InAntalya have you heard any news in Turkey about 4 Turkish officers allegedly captured by the Syrian Arab Army in Aleppo? I'm hearing about it on facebook and some Lebanese tv stations but not too sure about the credibility of the reports. What are you hearing in Turkey?

    •  There has been some discussion of this. (2+ / 0-)

      The coverage was that claims had been made that four Turkish fighter pilots had been captured by Syrian government forces as they were trying to infiltrate a Syrian air base.

      The Turkish miltary released an official statement that any reports that Turkish military fighter pilots had been trying to infiltrate a Syrian air base or had been captured were untrue.

      This left open the question as to whether or not any Turks who were pilots but were not in the Turkish military had been captured while trying to infiltrate this air base.

      The Turkish Government distances itself from any Turks who fight in Syria or are captured or killed there while fighting, and according to reports in the Turkish media quite a few Turks who were reportedly Islamic fundamentalists have been killed in Syria while fighting with different rebel groups.

      Lamb chop, we can quibble what to call it, but I think we can both agree it's creepy.

      by InAntalya on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 03:31:46 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks for that (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        InAntalya, angry marmot

        I was doubtful that they were military but would believe that they were perhaps part of the intelligence services.

        •  Coverage of this has reappeared today. (0+ / 0-)

          An MP from the opposition CHP has asked, in Parliament, the PM and FM if Turkish military officers and intelligence officers are being held captive by Syria. And in his question he included the names of ten officers.

          The FM has denied that any are, and as proof he said something like 'If they were, why haven't they been shown on TV?'.

          Lamb chop, we can quibble what to call it, but I think we can both agree it's creepy.

          by InAntalya on Fri Jan 04, 2013 at 08:27:56 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Pinch of salt for FSA Chemical weapons claim (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    InAntalya

    I wouldn't take this very seriously. Bassam al-Dada has been around for some time and has had a number of job descriptions - most I suspect made up by him for the occasion. He was connected with Riad al-Assad's grouping of the FSA (originally, I think, as  "political advisor to Riad al-Assad")  He has a record of making provocative statements, and as fire bad tree pretty notes above, Col. Malik Kurdi announced that he had been dismissed in August. He nonethless continues to make pronouncements from Turkey; Riad has been thoroughly sidelined, and I don't think al-Dada has managed to find a job with the new  "Supreme Military Council"  So I suspects he speaks for little other than himself.

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