The Obama administration continues to accuse Syria of preparing to use chemical weapons in its bid to defeat rebel forces. Anonymous U.S. officials told NBC News Thursday that the Syrian military has loaded sarin gas onto bombs and is awaiting orders from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to use them. Syria has accused the United States of using the chemical weapons accusations as a pretext for foreign intervention. In Washington, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called any chemical weapons usage a “red line” for the United States.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta: “Without commenting on the specific intelligence that we have with regards to these chemical weapons, I think there is no question that we remain very concerned, very concerned, that as the opposition advances, in particular on Damascus, that the regime might very well consider the use of chemical weapons. The whole world is watching. The whole world is watching very closely. And the president of the United States has made very clear that there will be consequences. There will be consequences if the Assad regime makes a terrible mistake by using these chemical weapons on their own people. I’m not going to speculate or comment on what those potential consequences would be, but I think it’s fair enough to say that their use of those weapons would cross a red line for us.”