David Kay, the former head of the coalition’s hunt for Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, yesterday claimed that part of Saddam Hussein’s secret weapons programme was hidden in Syria.
In an exclusive interview with The Telegraph, Dr Kay, who last week resigned as head of the Iraq Survey Group, said that he had uncovered evidence that unspecified materials had been moved to Syria shortly before last year’s war to overthrow Saddam.
“We are not talking about a large stockpile of weapons,” he said. “But we know from some of the interrogations of former Iraqi officials that a lot of material went to Syria before the war, including some components of Saddam’s WMD programme. Precisely what went to Syria, and what has happened to it, is a major issue that needs to be resolved.”
Dr Kay’s comments will intensify pressure on President Bashar Assad to clarify the extent of his co-operation with Saddam’s regime and details of Syria’s WMD programme. Mr Assad has said that Syria was entitled to defend itself by acquiring its own biological and chemical weapons arsenal.
Syria was one of Iraq’s main allies in the run-up to the war and hundreds of Iraqi officials – including members of Saddam’s family – were given refuge in Damascus after the collapse of the Iraqi dictator’s regime. Many of the foreign fighters responsible for conducting terrorist attacks against the coalition are believed to have entered Iraq through Syria. A Syrian official last night said: “These allegations have been raised many times in the past by Israeli officials, which proves that they are false.”