Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has used some chemical weapons against his own people and will likely use more as his grip on power becomes increasingly tenuous.
That's the assessment of retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely, who also warned of a growing humanitarian crisis among the rebels and explained why he doesn't fear radicals rising to power if Assad falls.
Vallely told WND Assad is using the threat of chemical weapons and other weapons of mass destruction as a last resort, but he said there is compelling evidence some of those weapons have already been deployed.
"He's already used chlorine gas to an extent, and phosphate," he said. "We have videotape of children being hit with the phosphate chemicals and the severe burns."
Vallely said Assad has many more horrific weapons at his disposal.
"We know that he has sarin gas. We know he has [weapons of mass destruction]. Much of it was transferred from Iraq in 2003 to several sites in Syria," Vallely said. "He's already used helicopters to spray chlorine gas. That has come from the validation from the Free Syrian Army commanders on the ground whom I met with just six weeks ago."
Government tactics, the use of catastrophic weapons and the onset of winter are combining to create a quickly growing humanitarian crisis among the Syrian rebels.
"Assad is trying to starve the people now in all those areas like Aleppo and Homs," said Vallely, who noted that supply lines have been cut off, leaving the people without food. He said Turkey has sent flour to some of the hardest hit areas, but it's hard to cook anything with it because all available wood is being burned to provide warmth.
But while the conditions seem bleak for the rebels, Vallely believes they will prevail sooner rather than later.
"No, I think it's maybe shorter than we think. The Free Syrian Army and others have attacked four of the airports, so you have international flights being canceled. The Russians are rethinking their strategy, so they're looking at how to remove themselves," said Vallely, who also noted that Iran is still actively supplying the Assad regime.
One of the greatest concerns about the rebels are the elements with rather clear ties to al-Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Vallely said he understands the fears that backing the rebels could lead to another Egypt, but he's confident that wouldn't happen in this case. He said the U.S. can play a major role without putting any troops on the ground. Vallely contends supplying them through Turkey would not only achieve a desired result but allow us to identify a legitimate successor to the Assad regime. His choice for that role is the leadership of the Free Syrian Army.
But even beyond what might come next in Syria, Vallely said it is imperative that Assad be removed from power.
"Assad is worse than Hitler in many ways, and they did nothing about Hitler until it was too late and millions were killed," said Vallely. "It's the same thing with Assad. Over 60,000 killed now in Syria."
Ultimately, Vallely sees the civil war in Syria ending much like another uprising in the region, and that would be bad news for Assad..
"His time is numbered," said Vallely, "just like [former Libyan leader] Gadhafi."