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There is no evidence yet that the Syrian military has actually begun the process of mixing precursor chemicals to produce deadly Sarin nerve gas, a senior defense official told NBC News on Tuesday.
According to the official, despite the increased activity around several chemical weapons sites, including truck movements in and out, it’s not even clear that the precursors have been moved from separate storage sites to one location.
The Syrian military is prepared to use chemical weapons against its own people and is awaiting final orders from President Bashar Assad, U.S. officials told NBC News on Wednesday. The military has loaded the precursor chemicals for sarin, a deadly nerve gas, into aerial bombs that could be dropped onto the Syrian people from dozens of fighter-bombers, the officials said.
Journalists, Syrians and human rights workers say the military has gone house to house and shot dead entire families.
Children, they say, have been abducted, tortured and killed and dumped on their parents' front door. There are allegations of underground torture facilities across the country.
It's loud and scary in Syria's capital. But now, this week, something seems different. It feels worse. And that makes Leena feel better.
Leena, a former teacher in her 30s, told CNN that she's hearing more helicopters hovering over her home this week.
"The worse it gets now, the more we know the rebels will win," she said. "We welcome this fight. It means we will wake up from this nightmare."
Damascus is the seat of al-Assad's power. Rebel forces seem to be fighting harder than ever in the capital and, according to analysts and on-the-ground observers like Leena.
In the past several weeks, the rebels -- once disorganized, dysfunctional and poorly armed -- have made major strategic and psychological gains.
They have seized control of key oil fields and territory in important areas of the north. They have audaciously fired on the Damascus airport and downed several military aircraft.
(Reuters) - Syrian rebel groups meeting in Turkey elected a 30-member unified command on Friday at talks attended by security officials from international powers, delegates said.
The 30 included many with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists, and excluded the most senior officers who had defected from President Bashar al-Assad's military, they said.
"We are witnessing the result of the Qatari and Turkish creations," the delegate said, adding that the 30 are a mix of officers who had defected from the military, which is dominated by Assad's minority Alawite sect, and civilians-turned rebels.
The Supreme Military Council, which was chosen Friday during a meeting in Turkey, will work with the political leadership that was chosen last month in Qatar.
The Muslim Brotherhood has established its own militia inside Syria as the country's rebels fracture between radical Islamists and their rivals, commanders and gun-runners have told The Daily Telegraph.
As we are nearing 2013, the western mainstream news outlets are still defending the Free Syrian Army by proclaiming them as the Rebels against a brutal oppressed regime of Assad.
Islam in Syria comprises 87% of the total population. Sunnis make up 74% of the total, mostly of Arab, Kurdish and Turkish ethnicities. Shia's make up the remaining 13%.