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December 11th, 2012
06:22 AM ET

U.S., allies train Syrian rebels how to secure chemical weapons; CNN's Brian Todd reports

The violence in Syria rages on with the potential threat of the Syrian regime using chemical weapons on its people. That threat has forced U.S. and NATO forces to rely on rebels to help secure stockpiles. CNN’s Brian Todd is following that part of the story.

“Even if Bashar al-Assad doesn't use chemical weapons in this civil war,” Todd says, “there's enough chaos afoot to alarm western officials about what may happen to those munitions.” According to top diplomats and a senior U.S. official, “the U.S. and its allies are using defense contractors to train Syrian rebels how to secure chemical weapons stockpiles. Our sources say the training's taking place in Jordan and Turkey. They tell us the Syrian rebels are being trained on how to monitor and secure stockpiles, but also on handling the weapons sites, and the weapons materials.”

One objective in training the Syrian rebels is to try to get real-time surveillance of Syria’s chemical weapons sites, Todd reports.  But Todd says this may still be cause for concern. “Syrian rebel forces are a confusing mix; moderate freedom fighters, battling alongside hard-line jihadists, some of whom are suspected of terrorist ties."

Philip Mudd, a former CIA and FBI Counter Terrorism Official, sums it up. “When you've got roughly 10-percent of the opposition in groups that the U.S. government is declaring as terrorist groups, you've gotta be concerned they've infiltrated the groups that we're trying to train,” Mudd says. “There's ways around that, but in any case like this, there's a lot of risk."

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Filed under: Chemical Weapons • Syria • warfare