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Syria Poised to Use Chemical Weapons: US Officials

Wednesday, 5 Dec 2012 | 7:30 PM ET
This is a satellite image of a location widely reported as a chemical weapons facility in Al Safirah, Syria collected on August 1, 2012.
Digital Globe | Getty Images
This is a satellite image of a location widely reported as a chemical weapons facility in Al Safirah, Syria collected on August 1, 2012.

The Syrian military is poised tonight to use chemical weapons against their own people -- and all it would take is the final order from Syrian President Assad.

As the fighting grows more intense and Syrian rebels close in on Damascus, the Syrian regime has turned increasingly desperate.

U.S. officials tell NBC News the Syrian military has now loaded the precursor chemicals for Sarin nerve gas into aerial bombs that could be dropped from dozens of Syrian fighter-bombers.

This week, U.S. intelligence detected a flurry of activity at chemical weapons sites, like this one, the Furqlus weapons depot near Homs -- Today while U.S. officials confirm the precursor chemicals are loaded, they must still be mixed together to create deadly Sarin gas.

The alarming developments shook the world -- President Obama and Hillary Clinton issued strong warnings to Syria's President Assad that there would be serious consequences if he used chemical weapons.

"It's the point of no return, they are going to lose any sort of backing with the Chinese and Russians and it is a suicide move," said Charles Blair at Federation of American Scientists.

The killing force of Sarin nerve gas is devastating. Iraq's Saddam Hussein killed 5 thousand kurds with a Sarin gas attack on Halabja in 1988.

US officials stress tonight that as of now, the Sarin bombs remain in the depots, have not been loaded onto planes and President Assad has not issued the order to use them. But if he does, officials here concede "there's little the outside world can do to stop it."