Syria’s military has loaded chemical weapons into aerial bombs for possible use and is waiting for authorization from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, NBC News and Fox News report

NBC News has more:

The military has loaded the precursor chemicals for sarin, a deadly nerve gas, into aerial bombs that could be dropped onto the Syrian people from dozens of fighter-bombers, the officials said. As recently as Tuesday, officials had said there was as yet no evidence that the process of mixing the “precursor” chemicals had begun. But Wednesday, they said their worst fears had been confirmed: The nerve agents were locked and loaded inside the bombs.

[…]

U.S. officials stressed that as of now, the sarin bombs hadn’t been loaded onto planes and that Assad hadn’t issued a final order to use them. But if he does, one of the officials said, “there’s little the outside world can do to stop it.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Assad that by using chemical weapons would sign the crossing of “a red line.”

Speaking at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday, Clinton said the Syrian government was on the brink of collapse and said “an increasingly desperate Assad regime” could turn to chemical weapons.

“Ultimately, what we should be thinking about is a political transition in Syria and one that should start as soon as possible,” Clinton said. “We believe their fall is inevitable. It is just a question of how many people have to die before that occurs.”

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“Sarin gas was most famously used by Saddam Hussein against the Kurdish town Halabja in 1988, which left thousands dead. The nerve agent was also used in a terrorist attack that kill 13 people in Tokyo’s subway system in 1995,” Huffington Post reports.

Syria has “60 days to use these bombs until the chemical mixture expires and has to be destroyed,” according to Fox News.