Sources: U.S. helping underwrite Syrian rebel training on securing chemical weapons
December 9th, 2012
05:55 PM ET

Sources: U.S. helping underwrite Syrian rebel training on securing chemical weapons

By Elise Labott

The United States and some European allies are using defense contractors to train Syrian rebels on how to secure chemical weapons stockpiles in Syria, a senior U.S. official and several senior diplomats told CNN Sunday.

The training, which is taking place in Jordan and Turkey, involves how to monitor and secure stockpiles and handle weapons sites and materials, according to the sources. Some of the contractors are on the ground in Syria working with the rebels to monitor some of the sites, according to one of the officials.

The nationality of the trainers was not disclosed, though the officials cautioned against assuming all are American.

Recommended: Syrian rebels creating unified command

One of the aims, the sources said, is to try to get real time surveillance of the sites because the international community would not have time to prevent the use of the weapons otherwise. The program could explain how U.S. intelligence was able to learn what U.S. officials said was evidence the Assad government is mixing precursors for chemical weapons and loading those compounds into bombs. The intelligence, one U.S. official told CNN last week, came not just from satellite surveillance, but also from information provided by people. The official would not say whether the human intelligence came from telephone intercepts, defectors or people inside Syria.

The U.S. military is also working with neighboring Jordan's military to train for the potential need to secure chemical weapons sites. But U.S. troops cannot train rebel forces because the United States has only authorized nonlethal aid for the opposition.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad seems to be backing off, at least for now, on the possible use of chemical weapons, after the major international outcry over the military activity, according to several sources. CNN reported Friday that the bombs are not being moved to any delivery devices and that the United States was not aware of any significant additional movement of chemical materials.

The Russians, who have allied with Syria, sent several strong messages to the Assad government over the past week against using chemical weapons, saying doing so would be a red line and Assad would lose Russia's support if he did. However, the sources said that the lull in activity could be short-lived and they believe that, if desperate enough, Assad would not hesitate to use such weapons.


Filed under: Chemical Weapons • Contractors • Syria
soundoff (361 Responses)
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    October 10, 2014 at 5:06 pm | Reply
  2. NYC Fitness Event

    This line caught my eye!
    "The U.S. military is also working with neighboring Jordan's military to train for the potential need to secure chemical weapons sites. But U.S. troops cannot train rebel forces because the United States has only authorized nonlethal aid for the opposition." At least were trying to do the right thing!

    February 6, 2014 at 9:27 pm | Reply
  3. FSA terrorists responsible for Poison gas Attack

    Stupid FSA terrorist made themselves a video to show to Wahabi Supporters backhome. Posted it on the internet. Obama wants to bomb who is responsible. Please send him this video.
    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPXwGKDrMQw&w=640&h=390]

    August 28, 2013 at 11:19 am | Reply
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    July 13, 2013 at 5:36 am | Reply
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    February 27, 2013 at 6:36 am | Reply
  7. massoud

    What a horrible US Foreign policy the idiocy never ceases to amaze me, funding and backing Islamic Fundamentalists once again it backfired in Afghanistan in the 1980's, it backfired in Libya and know onto Syria when will the policy makers come to their senses?

    December 11, 2012 at 1:46 am | Reply
    • andrew

      Only 40% of the Syrian rebel groups are known terrorists. What could go wrong? I wish there was a sarcasm font

      December 11, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Reply
    • Hans

      Sorry but the US is really in a bind here... They were never friendly to begin with as far as Syria is concerned... Add to that the fact that the US would really like for Syria to become a democratic state... However, it's quite likely that such a democratic Syria would become another Muslim-Brotherhood/Salafist stronghold...

      Plus, one election does not make a democracy... And we have yet to see a second election in any of the "Arab Spring" countries... In addition, while elections are necessary in a democracy without safeguards for minorities democracy is just tyranny by majority...

      The US (as well as the West) don't have any good choices as far as the "Arab Spring" (more like Arab Winter) goes... They don't like the existing regimes and they don't like the alternative regimes either...

      December 14, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Reply
    • Ajya

      brother, dontk now what american prodaganpa you have been watching, hezbollah is the ally of iran, they are defending lebanon, iran,syria,hamas,hezbollah (essentially lebanon) have a pact, if one of these locations are attacked, they drag in the rest of the pact, all are shia, hezbollah is the younger brother of iran, be proud of your brothers,

      May 3, 2014 at 10:58 pm | Reply
  8. bgdsertuhgdth

    I AM SAYING THIS AS A WOULD BE FRIEND: ALL THE PROTESTING ALL OF THE SLAUGHTER ALL THE FIGHTING ALL OF THE MOVING ALL OF THE HIDING ALL OF THE HOPES AND DREAMS FOR PEACE IN SYRIA WILL NEVER HAPPEN IF SYRIANS ALLOW THEMSELFS TO BE OCCUPIED BY TERRORISTS & OR ISLAMIST EXTREAMISTS BECAUSE SYRAINS WILL ONLY BE RUNNING OFF ONE DICTATOR TO SEE HIM REPLACED BY ANOTHER DICTATOR SYRAINS WILL NEVER BE FREE BECAUSE THOSE WHO TAKE POWER SUCH AS ISLAMIST EXTREAMISTS AND TERRORISTS ARE 100% IN OPOSITION TO FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY IT IS WHAT IT IS THIS IS HOW THE WORLD REALY WORKS JUST LOOK AT EGYPT IF YOU HAVE ANY DOUBTS

    December 10, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Reply
    • Toby

      Why are the media boasting rebel news and gains.. no mention of this same group having a child soldier behead a prisoner!this is absolutely shocking.. those responsible for this channel should be in the ICC..

      December 10, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Reply
  9. FckTheGlobalist

    Good to know my tax dollars are going to train Al-Queda and other jihadist. That way when Al-Queda attacks U.S. again I'll know we're safe because Al-Queda is here to protect us and the world.

    http://www.infowars.com/video-syrian-rebels-make-child-behead-prisoner/

    December 10, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Reply
  10. Hahahahahaha

    Hasn't anyone figured out yet that we shouldn't give ANY Towel Heads money? Hahahahahahah

    December 10, 2012 at 9:23 am | Reply
  11. Yob Vashu Mat

    US trains jihadists and happy of that. NICE.
    Osama Ben Laden case number II. Will backfire........same way or worse.

    December 10, 2012 at 6:16 am | Reply
    • Holo from Germany

      Please let me add this:
      More and more germans prefer "Obama Bin Laden" and hope, that all american people realize that their tax dollars are used to bring terrorism to the world.
      It is a shame but not the only fault of the USA.
      Looking at the french and british governments als well as at katar, saudi-arabia, israel, turkey, denmark and those countries who deliver weapons like "my" homeland will show the truth about a war to checkmate the attacked countries.
      In some german´s opinion the state of Iran will be the next "stage" and the whole world is overheard by british, german and american intelligence "services".
      Who wants to belong to such a buck(et)-world?
      I think: We all get what we choose ... or elect.

      September 23, 2013 at 8:29 am | Reply
  12. dou44

    US lie machine in full go mode.

    December 9, 2012 at 11:35 pm | Reply
  13. Federal Tyranny

    Why would anyone believe a thing the US government says?

    December 9, 2012 at 10:54 pm | Reply
  14. harpo2

    we all know this is a lie because there were no wmd's that left iraq for syria and it is ok because obama said it they are used, he will send a letter to syria and if that does not work then he will send a strongly worded letter and if that does not work he will go to the un and they will also send a letter get that has them shaking in their boots

    December 9, 2012 at 10:08 pm | Reply
    • Hans

      Actually, it's a well known fact that Syria does possess a large chemical warfare capability!... The WMD's do exist in Syria!...

      December 14, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Reply
  15. Portland tony

    As the story goes...during the first gulf war, when Saddam had chemical weapons, Bush had his Secretary of State explain to the Iraqis, that a Sarin attack on Israel would equate to a nuclear attack on the US and would be dealt with in kind. Saddam took us at our word and No Scud missiles fired on Israel contained poison gas!

    December 9, 2012 at 9:44 pm | Reply
  16. Lifes short

    Just like when we helped the Taliban in the 80's. "my enemy's enemy is my friend" doesn't work with Muslims. They just kill everything. You'll see just wait Untill they finish off their government.

    December 9, 2012 at 9:15 pm | Reply
    • MIJohn

      Except we didn't help the Taliban. The Taliban is a collection of extremists who were trained in religious camps in places like Iran, Egypt, and Pakistan. We armed very few of them since the majority of the weapons the US provided went to native-born Afghans. If anything the Taliban are why we SHOULD be arming the Syrian rebels. The only reason that tiny group of religious nuts came out on top was because "not my problem" people like YOU were so obsessed with appearing "nice" that when the opposition was trying to come out on top their only backer was cut off while the Taliban could go to the religious nuts in other countries to get weapons and troops.

      I swear people in the US are getting dumber every day. I would have thought fighting two world wars that took tens of thousands of lives because "not my problem" meant that the best chances to stop the aggressors were squandered would have taught them something. Instead its the same "well the OCEANS WILL PROTECT US" mindset in a new package even when it's been proven that there is no place that can't be attacked.

      December 9, 2012 at 9:31 pm | Reply
      • Awash

        When calling all Americans dumb do you see any irony in the fact that you talk about the tens of thousands killed in the world wars (many tens of millions) while blathering on about how we never supported the Taliban. God help us! You think you are smarter than the rest of us? You are a mouth breathing mental invalid.

        December 9, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
      • FkDahl

        Except we didn't help the Taliban. The Taliban is a collection of extremists who were trained in religious camps in places like Iran, Egypt, and Pakistan.
        – The US and ISI worked with Saudi money to train the mujaheddin, of which the Taliban is the off spring.
        -The Taliban are also vehemtly anti-shia (=Iran you bozo) with a long list of terrorist attacks against Shia in that part of the world.
        We armed very few of them since the majority of the weapons the US provided went to native-born Afghans
        – The Talibans are Afghans (or rather Pashtuns). The US have given them weapons.
        . If anything the Taliban are why we SHOULD be arming the Syrian rebels. The only reason that tiny group of religious nuts came out on top was because "not my problem" people like YOU were so obsessed with appearing "nice" that when the opposition was trying to come out on top their only backer was cut off while the Taliban could go to the religious nuts in other countries to get weapons and troops.
        You make no sense. The conflict have been sectarian from the start, with a basis in the Muslem Brotherhood-Alawite conflict. Fighters have come from Iraq, Libya and Lebanon for a long time, (those in Iraq are the Sunnis that the US recently fought against).
        I swear people in the US are getting dumber every day. I agree.

        December 10, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • Awash

      Just ask Amasador Stevens. His Lybian allies sodomized and murdered him.

      December 9, 2012 at 9:52 pm | Reply
  17. Not Surprised

    I bet the contractors are from Jack in the Box.

    December 9, 2012 at 9:02 pm | Reply
  18. Portland tony

    Sarin, VX, and other toxic chemical compounds although deadly as hell, do not make effective weapons of war. They are very unstable and will kill every living creature they come in contact with. If the wind is blowing the wrong way you could wipe out your own army. If bad guys were to indiscriminately unleash an attack on a particular city, like Saddam did, everyone dies. So the sooner the west can consolidate the
    ingredients and despose of them the better.

    December 9, 2012 at 8:57 pm | Reply
  19. realPerson

    So we have western-backed mercenaries on the ground in Syria advising Al Qaeda fanatics about handling chemical weapons. Well that makes perfect sense.

    December 9, 2012 at 8:23 pm | Reply
    • MIJohn

      Read morons. Training in in SECURING chemical weapons, not using them. As in how to make sure they're not going to be useable without a hefty investment in time. Time that can spell the different between the weapon being stolen and used and stolen then recovered.

      Shesh, I swear isolationists are getting even dumber than they were before. Is the why you people can remember what history teaches (which is that trying to stay out of conflicts just invites more) because you can't read anything more complex than "See Spot run"?

      December 9, 2012 at 9:22 pm | Reply
      • Hayatte

        You're the idiot when we know that the FSA is losing more and more men for the jihadists. Do like me people call and send emails to your representative and your senator to make Obama understand enough is enough.

        December 11, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
  20. Steve

    Why do we keep aiding these fools?

    December 9, 2012 at 8:11 pm | Reply
  21. Easy E

    I can't see how even Assad would be stupid enough to use chemical weapons. He has to know that using them basically green-lights him against a full throttled, merciless NATO response. If he remained in Syria he would be dead within hours at most, and he'd have very few options for exile if he fled. Even in exile, you just know he'd "meet with an accident".

    December 9, 2012 at 8:02 pm | Reply
  22. BigGuyWithABigPlane

    Syrian rebels are in cahoots with Al-Queda!!!!!!!!!!!!! STOP aiding Syria.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    December 9, 2012 at 7:53 pm | Reply
    • Ender

      I cycled?They don't make bikes for four lgeegd creaturesvand the gap between front and rear pedals on a tandem are too far apart. Believe me, I tried and ended up tearing three hamstrings

      May 4, 2014 at 3:48 pm | Reply
  23. Andrew

    Are they providing atropine injectors?

    December 9, 2012 at 7:42 pm | Reply
    • Easy E

      That only works in case of modest exposure. The most effective thing to have in case of chemical weapons attack is lots and lots of concentrated bleach to decon surfaces and people. Atropine pens and pyridostigmine pills (prophylaxic) are only so effective and have nasty side efects of their own...not to mention that dosing is difficult at best.

      December 9, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Reply
      • Ken

        I am a CBRN Soldier. It is important that you know how deadly sarin is. It is a two part chemical that when mixed becomes lethal. An amount as little as a drop on the skin or injestion through breathing is fatal. There will not be time to treat. Treatment will only make a victims death slow and brutal.The use of these chemicals will change the face of warfare for decades to come. I am glad that others have things to say about this no matter what the opinion. Be warned!This is nothing short of playing games with death.

        December 9, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
  24. Alex

    In other words, the United States is training al-Qaeda (and its affiliates) about chemical weaponry.

    December 9, 2012 at 7:31 pm | Reply
    • Straight shooter

      Exactly! Then later on down the road, they can use those skills against us. It's a vicious circle that will never change. I'm just waiting for WWIII to get started!

      December 9, 2012 at 7:57 pm | Reply
    • Andrey

      You are right! Chemical weaponry is the reason why al Qaeda commits so much of its resource to war in Syria in the first place! They want it so they would use against US and its allies. So now US trains al Qaeda fighters on that: how sweet! It is like early 80-s again whey they set up al Qaeda. What is wrong with these people: they just never learn!

      December 9, 2012 at 8:59 pm | Reply

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