Syrian opposition claims to have chemical weapons capacity

Syrian opposition forces recently claimed to be able to assemble their own stockpile of chemical weapons.

Bassam al-Dada, a political advisor to the Free Syrian Army, told Turkey's Anatolia news agency that the opposition possesses the knowledge and raw materials to produce its own arsenal. He warned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad not to threaten the opposition with chemical weapons or face them himself, according to

Dada said the opposition will only use chemical weapons if the regime uses them first. He also indicated that they would not use them against the Syrian civilian population.

"If we ever use them [chemical weapons], we will only hit the regime's bases and centers," Dada said, reports.

The opposition appears to be placing considerable emphasis on the notion that al-Assad is ultimately incapable of keeping his chemical weapons stockpile secure. Other opposition leaders have made similar claims to the media in recent months.

The claims, according to analysts, may reflect opposition's desire to keep the international community focused on the conflict and developing plans to intervene if necessary. U.S. President Barack Obama has repeatedly warned that if Syria's chemical arsenal were to fall into the hands of jihadists it could trigger Western military action.