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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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