Fort Bliss reacts to chemical weapons in Syria
POSTED: Thursday, April 25, 2013 - 8:44pm
UPDATED: Thursday, April 25, 2013 - 8:48pm
El Paso, TX — A chemical weapon thousands of miles away, may threaten the safety of soldiers from right here in the Borderland.
Fort Bliss recently deployed more than a hundred soldiers to Jordan to help that country deal with refugees fleeing Syria's civil war. Now the U.S.. government has confirmed Syrian forces are using a chemical weapon in its fight against rebels.
As NewsChannel Nine reported, the U.S. first supported the armed opposition in Syria with food and medicine. The Department of Defense recently ordered the deployment of up to 200 additional U.S. troops to Jordan including soldiers from Fort Bliss.
"To really continue that strong partnership and work as a subordinate capacity to the Jordanian armed forces," said Fort Bliss spokesman Major Joe Buccino.
But today the Department of Defense confirmed that U.S. intelligence showed evidence of chemical weapons in Syria.
"We cannot confirm the origin of these weapons, but we do believe any use of chemical weapons in Syria would very likely have been originated with the Assad regime," said DOD Secretary Chuck Hagel.
Back in August, President Obama had said that any sign of chemical weapon use in the country's civil war would be a red line for the U.S.
Gaspare Genna, Ph.D., a political science professor at UTEP thinks the U.S. may now step up its involvement in Syria, as concerns grow about where those weapons will end up once the civil war ends.
"Hagel would not come out and say this if it wasn't a prelude to something of that nature," said Genna. If the Assad regime does fall, there'd be a concern there. Where these chemical weapons would go? Who would control them? How'd they be secured?”
Genna thinks it could be just the beginning.
"The international community is backing the rebel forces in one way or another and the U.S. will become more involved militarily as a result of this," said Genna.
More than 70,000 people have died so far in the conflict.