David S. Cloud and Shashank Bengali
August 23, 2012
The Pentagon has made contingency plans to send small teams of special operations troops into Syria if the White House decides it needs to secure chemical weapons depots now controlled by security forces loyal to President Bashar Assad, senior U.S. officials said.
President Obama warned this week that any effort by Assad to move or use his arsenal of chemical munitions in the country’s conflict would cross a “red line,” implying it could prompt swift U.S. intervention.
But Pentagon planners are more focused on protecting or destroying any Syrian stockpiles that are left unguarded and at risk falling into the hands of rebel fighters or militias aligned with Al Qaeda, Hezbollah or other militant groups.