In past examples (notably Iraq) the clearest indication of a forthcoming war have been when the reports on the ground turned from exaggerations to hysteria to downright absurdity. Having quickly reached the Syria hysteria moment, we are starting to see the absurdities beginning.
Now, it isn’t enough for Syria’s artillery to be shelling the same civilian neighborhood in Homs that its been shelling for the past several weeks (and apparently with no interest in the actual battles happening in the city between regime and FSA rebel fighters). Instead, the regime has to be planning wholesale genocide with chemical weapons.
The report from the opposition says that the Syrian military is loading a school building in Homs with chemical munitions and is distributing gas masks to loyal soldiers in anticipation of launching such an attack.
But maybe you’re not into chemical weapons and are more interested in pro-regime invasions. If so, the reports have you covered as well. Chinese newspaper Renmin Ribao is claiming that the Iranian Quds Force is planning to deploy “up to 15,000” special operations troops in Syria to “maintain order.”
Of course there’s no actual evidence of a forthcoming chemical weapons attack, and the idea that Iran could somehow even deploy 15,000 troops into Syria is laughable. Once presented as rumors, however, such stories tend to have a life of their own, and if nothing else fuel support for less far-fetched, but no less unverified, claims.
To that end the Obama Administration is claiming that numerous unnamed Assad allies are preparing “exit plans” in Syria, preparing for life in exile. This story at least has the advantage of not being out of the question, but there is no indication it is true either.