After days of increased violence and strategic gains on the part of the Syrian rebel militias, the CIA is now sifting through intelligence and satellite imagery to find Bashar al-Assad’s chemical and biological weapons.
Various groups of rebels are trying to find and secure the stockpiles of weapons. “We have a group just to deal with chemical weapons. They are already trained to secure sites,” said Gen Adnan Silou, the most senior ranking member of Assad’s regime to defect to the opposition.
In addition to finding chemical and biological weapons in Syria, the State Department and the CIA have been trying to assess the loyalties and personalities of members of the opposition and those potential leaders of the regime to potentially intervene and aid some political transition in case the regime falls.
The CIA is working with military defectors to get intelligence. Although past experience, notably in Iraq, shows that defectors can be untrustworthy sources and often have an agenda to mobilize some sort of military intervention.
The Obama administration has maintained, even as they have supported the rebel militias, that they do not intend to intervene militarily. The latest actions – getting intelligence on the weapons and assessing what might come after Assad – seem innocent enough but they could easily snowball into a wider intervention. Washington undoubtedly wants to exploit any political transition in Syria for their own geopolitical benefit, eliminating a prime ally for Russia and Iran being highest among them.