UK Report Warns Chemical Weapons ‘Catastrophe’ Looms if Assad Falls

Arms Liable to Fall Into Hands of al-Qaeda-Backed Rebels

There are a lot of reasons why backing Syria’s rebellion was a bad idea, but the latest report from the British parliament’s intelligence committee reiterated one of the big ones today: the risk of chemical weapons proliferation.

Noting that Syria is believed to have “vast stockpiles” of chemical weapons, the exact size of which is somewhat unclear, the report warned that the ousted of Assad would likely lead to the acquisition of some of those arms be rebel fighters linked with al-Qaeda.

Syria has kept its large chemical weapons arsenal as a counter-balance to Israel’s nuclear arsenal. Though Israeli intelligence has suggested they are comfortable with the situation, noting that they don’t think Assad’s government is likely to use them, there is no reason to think that militant factions like Jabhat al-Nusra would shy away from using them both internally against Syria’s religious minorities and abroad against al-Qaeda’s regional foes.

The most horrifying aspect of this is that all of these issues have been known for quite some time: al-Qaeda’s link to the rebels was never in question, nor was the existence of a large Syrian chemical weapons stockpile. Despite the obvious risks, Britain has been one of the leaders in the international effort to back those same rebels in a quest for regime change, knowing full well the horrifying dangers of doing so.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.