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Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says Syria is not showing any new signs that it's preparing to use chemical weapons. Panetta ...
commented while flying to Kuwait. (Dec. 11)
Tags:ap,Associated Press,bashar al-assad,middle east news,syria chemical weapons,Syria civil war,Syria violence,Iraqi army,Leon Panetta,saddam hussein,u.s. defense secretary
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SHOTLIST:POOL/AP CLIENTS ONLYEN ROUTE TO KUWAIT/DEC. 11SOUNDBITE: LEON PANETTA/SECRETARY OF DEFENSEPanetta: 1. "At this point the intelligence has really kind of leveled off. We haven't seen anything new indicating any aggressive steps to move forward in that way. But we continue to monitor it very closely and we continue to make clear to them that they should not under any means make use of these chemical weapons against their own population. That would produce serious consequences."SOUNDBITE: LEON PANETTA/SECRETARY OF DEFENSE2. "Well, I'd like to believe he's got the message, we've made it pretty clear and others have as well. But you know it's also clear that the opposition continues to make gains in Syria and our concern is that if they feel like the regime is threatened with collapse that they might resort to these kinds of weapons."STORYLINE:The Syrian government seems to have slowed preparations for the possible use of chemical weapons against rebel targets, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Tuesday. Last week, U.S. officials said there was evidence that Syrian forces had begun preparing sarin, a nerve agent, for possible use in bombs. Speaking to reporters flying with him from Washington to Kuwait, Panetta suggested the threat was no longer escalating, although he was not specific about any Syrian military preparations. "At this point the intelligence has really kind of leveled off," he said. "We haven't seen anything new indicating any aggressive steps to move forward in that way." Panetta was in Kuwait to visit U.S. troops at the start of a four-day trip. The U.S. has about 13,500 troops in this country; they are a remnant of the 1991 Gulf War in which a U.S.-led coalition force evicted Saddam Hussein's Iraqi army after it invaded Kuwait in August 1990.(****END****)