The Syrian Opposition Coalition (SOC) said that the new reports about the Assad regime’s training of forces loyal to the Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar on the use of chemical weapons confirms the regime’s deception of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and that it still possess this type of internationally prohibited weapons in order to continue its extortion and international terrorism.
SOC’s member, Ayman al-Asimi, said that the threat of the use of chemical weapons will remain if there are no real steps to hold the Assad regime and its symbols accountable. He stressed that this danger is no longer limited to Syria as it is now threatening other countries.
Al-Asimi stressed that Assad’s survival in power poses a serious threat to the Syrian people and neighboring countries, adding that the political transition stipulated in UN resolutions is the only guarantee for the return of stability to Syria and the region as well as international peace and security.
Reports have recently revealed that more than 30 Haftar-loyal officers underwent a special training course at the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center in Jamraya near Damascus in the past few months with the aim of developing their expertise in the composition and weaponization of chemical substances.
According to these reports, Bashar al-Assad had met with the Libyan officers at the end of their training course, and conveyed to them the regime’s interest in security and military coordination with the Libyan armed forces loyal to Haftar.
A French report had previously indicated an increase in the transfer of mercenaries and drug shipments from Damascus to the Libyan city of Benghazi which is under the control of the Haftar forces.
The French newspaper Jeune Afrique reported that the Cham Wings Airlines, owned by the pro-regime businessman Rami Makhlouf and included on the US and Western sanctions lists, operated at least nine round-trip flights between Damascus and Benghazi last April.
The newspaper pointed out that the last of these flights was on April 19 and carried Syrian fighters and illicit drug shipments to Libya, adding that Russia is now recruiting mercenaries in Syria for the benefit of Haftar.
(Source: SOC’s media department)