Sunday 19 November 2017

Chemical warfare may be regime's last resort

Thomas Harding and James Kirkup in London

Desperate members of the collapsing Gaddafi regime could try to unleash Libya's stocks of chemical weapons, British Foreign Secretary William Hague warned yesterday.

The Pentagon also said that American armed forces were monitoring Muammar Gaddafi's chemical weapons sites. NATO commanders are also braced for Scud missile attacks as a final throw of the dice against towns held by opposition forces.

Intelligence sources said that Gaddafi has up to 240 Scud B missiles that could be fired on civilians. At least one Scud has already been launched from the Gaddafi stronghold in Sirte on the opposition-held town of Misrata but it fell off target, possibly into the sea.

Despite giving up most of his chemical and biological weapons after 2003, Gaddafi retained stocks of the chemicals required to make mustard gas.

It would also be relatively straightforward to fix chemicals on to the missiles, but the stockpile of mustard gas components is said to very small and likely to be out of date.

There is always the possibility that Libyan sleeper cells might have already been inserted into Europe to carry out revenge acts of terrorism using arms taken from Gaddafi's stores, defence sources said.

A significant NATO raid two months ago attacked a facility that had Scud launchers and rocket-fuelling canisters. It is understood that out of the 240 rockets only a "few dozen" might be viable.

NATO jets are ready to respond if Gaddafi attempts to fire Scuds or send armoured vehicles or artillery from outlying garrisons into Tripoli. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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