Baseless US claims suggest Assad has sarin nerve gas bombs ready for use. They say he's positioning them at as yet unknown locations.
Syria categorically denies it. A Foreign Ministry statement said military forces "would not use chemical weapons, if (they) had them, against its own people under any circumstances."
On December 2, The New York Times hyped the baseless chemical weapons threat. Unnamed officials were cited as sources. A US one said "activity we are seeing suggests some potential chemical weapon preparation."
It goes beyond moving them from one location to another, he claimed. No evidence whatever of planned use was given.
Leaking the chemical weapons story was strategically timed. It came ahead of NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels. They approved deploying Patriot missiles.
Doing so permits establishing no-fly zones over Syrian population centers without Security Council authorization. Incrementally, US-led NATO heads for war.
Following his one day Istanbul meeting with Turkey's Prime Minister Erdogan, Vladimir Putin issued a veiled warning. It was meant for Washington, saying:
"What we are concerned about is Syria's future. We don't want the same mistakes to be repeated in the near future. We shall remember how some regimes supported the militants in Libya and" how badly that turned out.
At the same time, Putin knows Washington's war on Syria looms. Russia and China have much to lose if America achieves unchallenged regional control. It remains to be seen how both countries will respond.