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Panetta: Syria Has Moved Some of Its Chemical Weapons...and We Don't Know Exactly What's Happened to Them

"Where exactly that's taken place, we don't know."

Syrian rebels prepare to shoot a mortar launcher 50 meters away from Syrian government troops on Sept. 27, 2012. Several thousand rebels launched what they said would be a decisive battle for control of the strategic northern city of Aleppo. (Getty Images)

Syrian rebels

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said Friday that there has been "limited movement" of some of Syria's chemical weapons, and that the U.S. isn't entirely sure what's happened to them.

Panetta said Syrian officials were moving the weapons in order to better secure them as opposition forces continue to battle President Bashar Assad's regime.

"There has been intelligence that there have been some moves that have taken place," Panetta told reporters at the Pentagon. "Where exactly that's taken place, we don't know. I don't have any specific information about the opposition and whether or not they've obtained some of this or how much they've obtained and just exactly what's taken place."

Panetta said the U.S. has confirmed that Syria's main chemical weapons sites still remain secure. Still, he couldn't say whether Syrian rebels may have gained access to any of the others. According to CNN, rebel groups have claimed to have taken control of some military sites where they found chemical weapons components.

"But with regards to, you know, the movement of the -- of some of this and whether or not they've been able to locate some of it, we just don't know," Panetta said.

According to the Associated Press, Syria is widely believed to have stockpiled extensive chemical and biological weapons and has threatened to use them if the country comes under attack.

President Barack Obama said in August it would be a "red line" if Syria used chemical weapons or even moved them.

"We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus. That would change my equation," Obama said.

(h/t Foreign Policy)

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