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December 6th, 2012
12:04 PM ET

Former US Amb. doubts Syria's use of chemical weapons; says Assad will lose civil war

Former U.S. Ambassador to NATO and Harvard Professor Nicholas Burns says that there will be “negative repercussions” if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad uses chemical weapons against his people and that he will lose the civil war.

Burns says, “The Syrian government would have to think long and hard before using those weapons. There’ll be all sorts of negative repercussions from them including the threat of military intervention. And I do think the Russian government will not want to see Syria use chemical weapons or let them out to the control of rebel forces.”

When O’Brien asks if Assad is desperate enough to use weapons on his own people, Burns answers, "It’s really impossible to tell. The Syrian government spokespeople have been saying over the last couple of days under no circumstances will they use them, except for foreign military intervention. But, Assad is desperate. His back is against the wall. He is going to lose in this civil war. The rebels have made extraordinary advances over the last couple of days. So he’s got to be thinking about either exile or perhaps creating an enclave within Syria where his Alawite clan can defend themselves perhaps along the Mediterranean coast.”


Filed under: Syria
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  1. Chris

    From what I've seen and heard watching CNN, I'm left wondering whether there is any real evidence that Syria is considering chemical weapons, let alone mixing or loading the material into bombs. It's certainly possible, I'm not disputing that these reports might be true, only that it's strange to suddenly see so much talk on every news channel but notice that we aren't getting any specifics on how we know it's actually happening. I agree with Mr. Burns, and I think anyone would conclude Assad would be insane to try that and set himself up to be hanged for war crimes. After the talk of WMD's in Iran, which turned out to be questionable (if not outright misinformation intended to influence public opinion) I'd prefer CNN present facts to back up the assertion that Syria is actually loading or threatening to use chemical weapons. At the moment, this whole issue reminds me a bit of how the WMD and 'yellow cake' scenario was played up to justify going into Iraq.

    December 6, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse | Reply

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