US and Turkey 'prepare for fall of Assad regime'


Syrian rebels hunt for snipers near Aleppo on July 23, 2012.


Bulent Kilic

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Turkey's foreign minister said on Saturday that their countries were working on a formal structure to plan for worst case scenarios in Syria, including possible chemical weapons attacks on opponents of the current regime.

The Associated Press reported that Clinton and FM Ahmet Davutoglu said that the two countries would set up a working group which would coordinate military, intelligence and political responses to the fallout in the case of a chemical attack.

Clinton said that now was the time for "very intensive operational planning."

According to Reuters, Washington sees Turkey, one of Syria's harshest critics, as one of the key players in supporting Syria's opposition and the inevitable collapse of the Assad government.  

The New York Times reported that Turkey has indicated it would like safe haven created for the Syrian rebels near the Turkish border with Syria, but so far the US government has resisted the idea due to concerns that it would become enmeshed in the conflict.  

In the past week alone, about 6,000 Syrians have arrived in Turkey in the past week alone, bringing the officially registered refugee population here to more than 50,000. 

Meanwhile in Washington, the Treasury and State departments announced new sanctions on Syria's state-run oil company Sytrol, saying it had supplied gasoline to Iran, and on Lebanon-based Hezbollah, which the US said had provided training, advice and extensive logistical support to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government.

According to the Jersulem Post, the new sanctions add to Washington's economic measures targetting both Syria and foreign entities that are accused of helping Assad's government, but have not stopped Assad's bloody crackdown on his opponents.