Former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton says Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is preparing "his last defense" if reports are true that he has loaded sarin gas into bombs and his troops are awaiting orders from him to use them against opposition forces.
He said the news reports, based on disclosures from unnamed U.S. officials, means that "Assad regime forces are suffering real military setbacks" and that the dictator is prepared to use "the ultimate weapon."
"We're very much at risk now, not only that the chemical weapons will be used in the conflict in Syria but that if terrorists elements within the opposition get their hands on the agent or the weapons, they could go out of the country and be used by terrorists worldwide," Bolton told Fox News Greta Van Susteren Wednesday night. "And that is a real danger."
Bolton made the comments as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton prepared to meet Thursday afternoon with her Russian counterpart in an effort to bring an end to the more than 2-year-old Syrian conflict. Both countries have issued a stern warning to the Assad regime not to unleash its chemical arsenal, suggesting military action in response.
News reports Wednesday also said Assad was seeking political asylum in Venezuela and possibly Cuba in an effort to leave Syria and escape prosecution for international war crimes. Bolton said Assad probably thinks "he's close to the end of the line."
"It's possible that Assad is trying to deceive the opposition and the West again to increase his bargaining power, but I would not put it past Assad to use this weapon," Bolton added. "He's perfectly capable of doing it. It's the kind of regime that he's been leading these past several years."
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