The NY Times has just publish a very interesting investigative piece that claims that in late November the Assad regime moved sarin gas components from their holding locations, mixed them and loaded them into 500 lb. bombs at air fields so that they could be delivered in two hours time. That remains the case today.
The NY Times reports:
Hints of Syrian Chemical Push Set Off Global Effort to Stop It
By ERIC SCHMITT and DAVID E. SANGER
Published: January 7, 2013
WASHINGTON — In the last days of November, Israel’s top military commanders called the Pentagon to discuss troubling intelligence that was showing up on satellite imagery: Syrian troops appeared to be mixing chemicals at two storage sites, probably the deadly nerve gas sarin, and filling dozens of 500-pounds bombs that could be loaded on airplanes.
Within hours President Obama was notified, and the alarm grew over the weekend, as the munitions were loaded onto vehicles near Syrian air bases. In briefings, administration officials were told that if Syria’s increasingly desperate president, Bashar al-Assad, ordered the weapons to be used, they could be airborne in less than two hours — too fast for the United States to act, in all likelihood.
What followed next, officials said, was a remarkable show of international cooperation over a civil war in which the United States, Arab states, Russia and China have almost never agreed on a common course of action.
The combination of a public warning by Mr. Obama and more sharply worded private messages sent to the Syrian leader and his military commanders through Russia and others, including Iraq, Turkey and possibly Jordan, stopped the chemical mixing and the bomb preparation. A week later Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said the worst fears were over — for the time being.
But concern remains that Mr. Assad could now use the weapons produced that week at any moment. American and European officials say that while a crisis was averted in that week from late November to early December, they are by no means resting easy. More...
From asharq alawsat we have this report:
Syrian defector reveals how al-Assad regime “fabricates” news
By Adham Saif al-Din
Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat – A Syrian regime media defector, who previously worked at the pro-Assad al-Dunya TV, informed Asharq Al-Awsat how the al-Assad regime fabricates news, misleads the public and distorts the reputation of the Syrian revolution on Syrian state television. The Syrian source, who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, also leaked several clips taken from the archive of pro-Assad media that reveals just precisely how the Damascus regime is running its propaganda operations.
Al-Arabiya published a video, leaked by the same media defector, which shows a young Syrian woman – her features blurred to protect her identity – relating the story of how she was kidnapped by Syrian rebels in the city of Harasta in Rif Dimashq governorate. Following this, we see a clip of one of the young men confessing to his part in this kidnapping; the only problem is that the story is a complete sham. In fact, the compete video clip shows the young Syrian woman – her features uncovered – relating the same story, only this time smiling and stumbling over her lines.
The Syrian defector informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “the scene will have been pre-prepared at one of the security branches. Following this, Syrian state media correspondents will go to record confessions with the speaker being prompted in what he must say to harm the Syrian revolution and revolutionary forces.”
He added “the large number of security branches and their lack of coordination means that sometimes blatant contradictions appear on television such as with regards to the killing of Sarriya Hassoun, the son of Syrian Grand Mufti Ahmed Badreddin Hassoun. Syrian state television broadcast the confession of two separate terrorist cells – telling two different stories – regarding Sarriya Hassoun’s death. Of course, both stories highlighted the aspects that the Syrian regime wanted highlighting.”
The Syrian source revealed that he originally comes from one of Syria’s northern provinces and that he previously worked as a news editor at al-Dunya TV in 2011 before the start of the revolution. He later left this job for a different one, preparing to defect from the regime and join the Syrian revolution.
The Syrian media defector asserted that Syria security apparatus interfere and put pressure on Syrian media and Syrian media staff, adding that this had happened at al-Dunya TV during his time there. However he denied that any single security or intelligence authority was responsible for overseeing this, informing Asharq Al-Awsat that “all of the security branches interfered in the media’s operations, as is the case with all government institutions in Syria.”
He added ‘within the corridors of al-Dunya TV, no employee or media figure would dare to express any opinion against regime policy for fear of the Syrian security forces and its agents and informers who are everywhere inside every Syrian media organization.”
The source also revealed that “some employees were arrested after their support for the revolution was exposed, whilst some other detainees were freed and they fled the country for Egypt and Dubai” adding “there are others who were arrested and whose fates remain unknown until now.”
The Syrian media defector remains within Syria, where he receives information from some of his former colleagues which allow him to expose the shocking practices of Syrian state media. He refused to reveal who is responsible for this for fear of putting them – and their families – in danger, also refusing to reveal when such files were leaked to him to further confuse their source of origin.
The media defector told Asharq Al-Awsat that Syrian state and pro-Assad media are now doing everything in their power to promote the regime’s line regarding a “foreign conspiracy” against Syria, as well as the presence of “armed gangs” committing atrocities on the ground. He said “there are some people on social media who are actively helping the state-sponsored media to fabricate and promote such news, particularly the pro-Assad Shaam news outlet, as well as the so-called Syrian Electronic Army which is funded by Mujahid Ismail, the leader of the Shabiha in Syria.”
[And I would add to this list certain Kossacks that have made it their mission to make sure the latest Assad fabrication or faked terror attack is reported in the comments to my diaries just the way Assad would like it.]
The source added “as for the biggest pro-Assad newspaper, this is funded by businessman Majd Suleiman, son of well-known Intelligence chief and current Syrian ambassador to Jordan, Bahjat Suleiman.”
CNN previously interviewed former Syrian presidential palace press officer, Abdullah al-Omar, who lately defected from the al-Assad regime and revealed its questionable practices. He said “our job was to fabricate, make deceptions and cover up for Bashar al-Assad’s crimes.”
He also revealed that during the regime’s bombardment of the rebel-held Baba Amr neighborhood in the city of Homs, al-Assad regime loyalist women were brought in and disguised as locals for government television. He said “the women would say that the massacres against men, women and children were perpetrated by armed gangs, when it was actually the Syrian regime, security forces and the Shabiha who were behind these horrendous acts.”