(KUWAIT CITY) — During his flight to Kuwait on Tuesday, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta addressed the threat of the Syrian government using chemical weapons against rebel fighters.
While Panetta noted that the U.S. hasn’t seen any new intel indicating aggressive steps to move chemical weapons, he told reporters on board that “we continue to monitor it very closely and we continue to make clear to them that they should not under any means make use of these chemical weapons against their own population. That would produce serious consequences.”
The defense secretary said he would “like to believe” that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has gotten the message, but that optimism could easily change.
“It’s also clear that the opposition continues to make gains in Syria and our concern is that if they feel like the regime is threatened with collapse that they might resort to these kinds of weapons,” he said.
Panetta is in Kuwait to visit troops and meet with officials.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Ralph Ellis, Ben Wedeman and Michael Pearson, CNN
David Mark, CNN Newswire