PHOTO: Chemical weapons inspectors in Syria, October 2013
Al Jazeera Arabic has made the provocative claim, citing a “senior leader of the Republican Guard” of Syria, that the Assad regime has kept some of its chemical weapons despite its promise to hand over all stocks for destruction.
According to the site, the senior officer said the regime evaded international inspectors, following the promise to give up its chemical weapons after its August 2013 attacks near Damascus, by hiding the material in secret underground bunkers in several locations in and near the capital.
The officer allegedly have “secure knowledge” of four sites and “partial knowledge” of a fifth.
1. A large complex, overseen by the Air Force, to the east of Ummayad Square near the Meridien Hotel (now the Dedeman Hotel):
The officer maintained that the complex has been used for nuclear development, with a visit by the Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan in 1998, as well as chemical weapons.
2. The headquarters of Brigade 105 on the western slope of Mount Qassioun, north of Damascus:
3. Near the main Damascus-Aleppo highway, close to Adra, north of the capital:
4. Near the main Damascus-Aleppo highway, in a house in a small wooded grove
5. In a secret headquarters of a special unit near the Damascus suburb of Qaboun:
So far the claims have not received any attention beyond Al Jazeera Arabic. However, UN inspectors and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons have expressed concern that the Assad regime has not declared all its weapons sites. The OPCW has also concluded with a “high degree of certainty” that chlorine weapons were used in spring 2014.
The questions hover over whether the story is vital information, propaganda, or deception: Who is the “senior officer” and is there any corroboration for the assertions about the five sites?