If Syrian dictator Bashar Assad decides to use his chemical weapons, there won't be a thing the U.S. military can do to stop him, America's top military officer conceded on Thursday. Nor will the U.S. step into a "hostile" atmosphere, with or without Assad, to keep those chemicals under control.
It's been a month since U.S. intelligence learned that Assad's forces were mixing some of their precursor chemicals for sarin gas, as Danger Room first reported. The Syrian military even loaded aerial bombs with the deadly agent. Assad hasn't used the weapons — yet. Should he change his mind, there's little chance the U.S. would know it before it's too late to stop the first chemical attack in the Mideast in over 20 years.
"The act of preventing the use of chemical weapons would be almost unachievable," Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters at the Pentagon. "You would have to have such clarity of intelligence, persistent surveillance, you'd have to actually see it before it happened. And that's unlikely, to be sure."