(JTA) — U.S. officials are warily watching as Syria begins moving undeclared chemical weapons out of its storage facilities.
Syria’s Assad regime may be preparing to use the weapons against rebels fighting its control, or may be moving them to safeguard them against opponents and to confuse Western governments, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Opposition leaders and Western governments say as many as 15,000 people have been killed by the regime in nearly 16 months of the uprising.
The weapons in transit — reportedly including the sarin nerve agent, mustard gas and cyanide — are creating increasing concern in Washington and elsewhere.
"This could set the precedent of WMD [weapons of mass destruction] being used under our watch," one U.S. official told The Wall Street Journal. "This is incredibly dangerous to our national security."
The Obama administration has begun to hold classified briefings about the new intelligence, the paper reported.
The Syrian government rejected reports that it was moving its weapons.
"This is absolutely ridiculous and untrue," said Syria’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Jihad Makdissi, told the Journal. "If the U.S. is so well informed, why can’t they help Kofi Annan in stopping the flow of illegal weapons to Syria in order to end the violence and move towards the political solution?" he said, referring to the United Nations envoy.