(DAMASCUS, Syria) -- For reasons still unknown, Syria has begun shifting a portion of its chemical weapons stockpile, U.S. officials tell The Wall Street Journal.
The report says stockpiles of deadly cyanide, mustard gas and sarin nerve agent have been moved out of storage facilities.
Syria has been torn apart by a 16-month-long violent uprising, and some U.S. officials fear President Bashar al-Assad may use the weapons against rebels or civilians. Other U.S. officials believe the move is being made to protect the stockpile from government opponents.
While the reason for the move is unclear, evidence that chemical weapons are being moved in the first place has U.S. officials concerned.
“This could set the precedent of WMD [weapons of mass destruction] being used under our watch. This is incredibly dangerous to our national security,” one U.S. official said.
The Obama administration has initiated classified briefings about the weapons movement.
The Syrian government denies any chemical weapons stockpiles have been moved.
Meanwhile, the Syrian opposition reported Thursday that more than 200 people have been killed in a “massacre” by government troops in Hama. The opposition says more than 17,000 people have been killed during the uprising.
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