Dec. 11 - U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says intelligence signals no new steps on chemical weapons in Syria, as government warplanes continue to bomb cities throughout the the country. Deborah Gembara reports.
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says intelligence signals no new steps on chemical weapons in Syria, as government warplanes continue to bomb cities throughout the the country. A week after western powers warned Syria not to use chemical weapons, the top U.S. defense official had this to say. SOUNDBITE: U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta saying: "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. His comments came as rebel fighters marched on an infantry training center in Aleppo chanting "We are coming for you." Reuters cannot independently verify the content of this video which was posted to a social media webstie. Panetta says the U.S. is paying close attention to President Bashar al-Assad's response which so far has consisted of increased missile strikes like this one on the easter city of Deir al-Zor. As to the likelihood of Assad usign chemical weapons, he had this to say. SOUNDBITE: U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta saying: "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." The government has stepped up it efforts to tamp down an insurgency that has at this point, reached the capital and shows signs of entrenching itself there.