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US, Turkey plan for worst-case scenarios

Working group set up as conditions deteriorate

Image Credit: AP
APleadTurkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, top right, and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton meet with Syrian refugees in Istanbul, on Saturday, Aug. 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool)
Gulf News

ISTANBUL:US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Turkey’s foreign minister said yesterday that their countries are creating a formal structure to plan for worst-case scenarios in Syria, including a possible chemical weapons attack on regime opponents.

Clinton and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said their two nations would set up a working group to respond to the crisis in Syria as conditions there deteriorate. They said the group will coordinate military, intelligence and political responses to the potential fallout in the case of a chemical attack, which would result in medical emergencies and a likely rise in the number of refugees fleeing Syria. Clinton also said Washington would donate 45 million to the United Nations refugee agency to help Syrians displaced by the violence in their homeland.

Clinton said the group was needed in order to explore the “real details” of potential new crises. She said it was now time for “very intensive operational planning.”

“We have been closely coordinating over the course of this conflict, but now we need to get into the real details of such operational planning. It needs to be across both of our governments,” Clinton said. “No one can predict how soon this (Bashar al-Assad’s) regime will finally be brought to an end,” Clinton said.

She said the US State Department and Turkey’s Foreign Ministry have already been working together on the issue but that the new working group would increase the involvement of the intelligence services and militaries of both countries.

Among the contingencies that the US and Turkey agree on the need to plan for is “the horrible event that chemical weapons (are) used,” Clinton said.

“What would that mean in terms of response, humanitarian and medical emergency assistance and, of course, what needs to be done to secure those stocks from ever being used or falling into the wrong hands?” Clinton said.