Concerns Deepen about Syria’s Chemical Weapons as Iran Admits Propping Up Assad Regime
James Phillips / Adam Gianella /
A Syrian defector, who was formerly involved in Syria’s chemical weapons program, charged that the Assad regime has mulled using chemical weapons against opposition forces and predicted that the regime would not hesitate to do so as a last resort. Major General Adnan Sillu, who defected to the opposition three months ago, also contends that the regime considered transferring the deadly weapons to Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Lebanese terrorist group which has assisted the regime’s efforts to repress the Syrian opposition.
Israelhas warned that transferring chemical weapons to Hezbollah would trigger an Israeli military response. In testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade, The Heritage Foundation’s defense expert Steven Bucci also stressed the need for U.S. contingency planning to address the problem of Syrian chemical weapons if the regime implodes.
The German magazine Der Spiegel also reported on Monday that the Syrian Army conducted chemical weapons tests in August at a site near the embattled city of Aleppo. Eyewitnesses claimed that the exercise—which involved firing empty chemical weapons shells from tanks and warplanes—was observed by a delegation of Iranian military officers who were thought to be members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
The commander of the Revolutionary Guards admitted earlier this week that Tehran has deployed members of the elite Quds Force unit to help Syria Assad regime to crush the opposition. Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari said that defending Syria dictatorship is a “point of pride” for Iran.
Jafari described the Shabiha (“ghosts”), the paramilitary thugs that have carried out some of the most brutal attacks against Syrian opposition forces and civilians, as “Syria’s Basij”—a reference to the Iranian paramilitary force that has helped crush opposition in Iran. The Quds Force has reportedly helped train and advise the Shabiha, who are known for committing atrocities, rapes, torture and mass executions.
It should not be surprising that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards take pride in assisting such a criminal organization, as they have committed many similar crimes inside Iran.