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Pentagon: Syria preps chemical weapons

Fighting in Syria has displaced thousands of people. (Source: Voice of America/Wikimedia) Fighting in Syria has displaced thousands of people. (Source: Voice of America/Wikimedia)

(RNN) - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has ordered his military to prepare aerial bombs filled with deadly sarin nerve gas that could be used on his own people, according to Pentagon reports.

The Pentagon said sarin gas bombs had not been loaded onto planes yet, but the necessary chemicals had been mixed and the bombs were ready to be deployed.

"Physically, they've gotten to the point where they can load it up on a plane and drop it," an official told Wired.

Once Assad makes the order for the bombs to be dropped, "there's little the outside world can do to stop it," a U.S. official told NBC.

The use of nerve gas has world leaders on edge, including Russia, which has been supportive of the Syrian regime.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and a peace envoy for Syria to discuss the worsening situation.

More than 30,000 people have died in Syria since the uprising began in March 2011. 

Assad has been threatening to use chemical weapons for several months. In July, the Guardian reported the Syrian regime was preparing chemicals in case of a "foreign attack" and not against its own people.

"No chemical or biological weapons will ever be used, and I repeat, will never be used, during the crisis in Syria no matter what the developments inside Syria," said Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi.

However, Wired reported in July the Syrian regime could use its chemical weapons arsenal on its own people if it felt the Free Syrian Army, which includes many defectors from Assad's military, could be in a position to obtain those weapons.

"If Aleppo falls to the Free Syrian Army, [Assad] will deploy them because he's insane ... he'd use them against everyone, rebels and civilians. This would be total destruction. These weapons hurt everyone." said General Adnan Silou, a former member of Assad's military regime who is now a leader in the FSA, according to Syrian Assistance, a nonprofit organization.

Aleppo is Syria's largest city and its industrial center. It has been the focal point of intense fighting for several months.

Sarin is a clear, colorless and tasteless liquid that kills quickly by "turning off" the body's muscles and glands, which can cause loss of consciousness, convulsions, paralysis and respiratory failure, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The deadly nerve agent was used in Iraq by Saddam Hussein in 1988 when he ordered an attack on the Kurdish people during the Iran-Iraq war.

The "Halabja gas attack," as it became known, immediately killed between 3,200 and 5,000 people, according to the BBC. According to some estimates, 75 percent of the victims were women and children.

Sarin gas was also used in 1995 when a religious cult in Japan coordinated an attack on Tokyo's subway system.

The attack killed 12 people and caused long-term injuries, including blindness, for hundreds more.

Copyright 2012 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

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