DEBKAfileExclusive Report August 17, 2012, 10:14 AM (GMT+02:00)
The US and its allies are discussing a worst-case scenario that could require up to 60,000 ground troops to go into Syria to secure chemical and biological weapons sites following the fall of the Assad government, an unnamed American source said Thursday night, Aug.16. This scenario postulates the disintegration of his security forces, he said, leaving chemical and biological weapons sites vulnerable to pillaging. It assumes the sites could not be destroyed by aerial bombings in view of health and environmental hazards. “There is no imminent plan to deploy ground forces,” the source insisted. This is just a worst-case scenario. debkafile’s military sources find in this disclosure a bid to psychologically prepare the world for the prospect of chemical warfare, as the dialogue between Bashar Assad and his neighbors gains in violence.
The American special forces deployed on the Jordanian-Syrian border and in bases in Israel and Turkey clearly perceive a chemical-biological weapon threat. Military and medical preparations are being quietly put in place. Reconnaissance teams from potentially targeted countries have infiltrated Syria. They are on the lookout for any chemical missiles being moved into firing positions, although it is taken into account that Assad may be shifting decoys and that not all the real launchings can be stopped.
The Syrian ruler may also decide to transfer chemical explosives to Hizballah in Lebanon. Israel is on record as warning it would prevent this.
Medical preparations are also in place. The US and France are flying special military hospital facilities trained in the treatment of chemical weapon injuries to Turkey and Jordan. Israeli hospitals are on war alert and have begun opening fortified emergency wards and making them ready for patients.
Tuesday, Aug. 14, IDF Home Front Command units embarked on a series of chemical attack drills in the towns of the northern district down to Afula, which is 52 kilometers east of Haifa and 110 kilometers north of Tel Aviv.
The soldiers taking part those drills wore new anti-contamination suits.
In Tel Aviv, city hall announced underground parking spaces would be available in an emergency as bomb shelters for up to 850,000 people.
Wednesday, August 15, Bashar Assad’s violence again broke new ground:
Syrian air force bombers struck Azaz not far from the Turkish border – for the first time with the aim of razing a complete Syrian town. More than 80 people were killed and 150 wounded. He was telling the Free Syrian Army rebels who had been using Azaz as their command post and logistical hub for the Aleppo battle that the gloves were off and the same punishment would be meted out to any urban areas hosting them.
The Syrian ruler also warned Ankara through back channels that if any more Turkish FIM-92 Stinger anti-aircraft missiles were supplied to the FSA, he would arm the 2,500 Turkish rebel PKK Kurdish fighters allowed to deploy on the Syrian-Turkish border with Russian SA-8 anti-air missiles for use against Turkey.
Ankara shot back: That will be war.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s military sources report that Assad is resolved more than ever to stand fast after the shot in the arm he received last week from Tehran.
Iran’s National Security Adviser Saeed Jalili visited Damascus Aug. 6-7 to ascertain that Syria would strike Israel and US military targets in the region with all its might if they attacked Iran. Assad was ready to offer this pledge, but demanded in return that Tehran guarantee to exercise all its military capabilities to save him from any military or covert attempts to end his rule – whenever it was requested.