Well, it looks like, at least in some concrete ways, implementation of the U.S.-Russia-Syria deal to dismantle the Assad regime’s chemical weapons will mean acquiescing to the solidification, if not advancement, of the government’s control over the country, as some had warned. UPI reports:
Troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad have broken through rebel forces encircling the northern city of Aleppo to secure a major chemical weapons base that, if they can hold it, will be a big help to U.N. experts sent in to destroy Assad’s chemical arsenal.
The sprawling facility at al-Safira is one of the most important chemical warfare centers in Syria, and has been one of the most threatened by the rebels, including hard-line jihadist groups like the al-Nusra Front.
The nightmare scenario for Israeli and Western leaders is that the jihadists get their hands on Assad’s vast armory of chemical weapons and deadly nerve agents like sarin and VX.
The capture of al-Safira, which includes a heavily guarded facility where nerve agents are produced and weaponized, could allow the U.N. specialists to eliminate a significant portion of Assad’s weapons of mass destruction.
The plant itself has always remained under regime control, but at the beginning of this week, they seized control of the roads leading to it and the area surrounding it, which will in theory allow access to the crucial site for the U.N. inspectors and chemical-weapons handlers, who are already arriving in the country. The last time Assad’s army moved in and out of the area?
In late 2012, the Syrian army sent a large, heavily armored relief column into al-Safira, possibly to remove some of the stockpile of sarin and other nerve agents stored there to more secure bases.
We’ll just have to hope they’ll tell the blue helmets where they took them.