Syria conducts tests of munitions capable of carrying chemical weapons

Syrian army tanks and airplanes recently conducted exercises with munitions designed to carry poison gas.

A number of officers believed to be members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards were reportedly flown to the Safira research center, Syria's largest chemical weapons facility, in order to witness the tests, according to

The shells are believed to have been blanks, but the activity will most likely cause some concern among Western nations.

Western officials have stated repeatedly that any Syrian attempt to use chemical weapons could result in an armed response. Syria has pledged never to use its chemical stockpiles against its own population, but recently warned it would activate them in the event of foreign intervention.

North Korean and Iranian scientists frequently work at and visit the Safira research center, which is believed to produce and store chemical agents such as sarin, tabun and mustard gas, reports.

Western intelligence agencies believe Syria possesses the world's third largest arsenal of chemical weapons, including several hundred tons of nerve agents and precursor components. They have identified at least 20 chemical weapons storage, testing and production sites across the country.

There is concern that not all of the depot sites have been located. Syria is suspected of having learned to conceal its weapons facilities from spy satellites with help from Russia and North Korea.