|Assad win may be Syria's 'best option': Ex-CIA chief||
The sectarian bloodbath in Syria is such a threat to regional security that a victory for Bashar al-Assad's government could be the best outcome to hope for, a former CIA chief said.
According to AFP, Michael Hayden, the retired US Air Force general who until 2009 was head of the Central Intelligence Agency, said a rebel win was not one of the three possible outcomes he foresees for the conflict.
"Option three is Assad wins," Hayden told the annual Jamestown Foundation conference of terror experts.
"And I must tell you at the moment, I'm kind of trending toward option three as the best out of three possible outcomes," he said.
Hayden deemed that the most likely outcome would be the "dissolution of Syria" and the end of a single state within the borders defined by a 1916 treaty between the French and British empires.
A breakdown in the century-old settlement could spread chaos in Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq, Hayden warned.
"I greatly fear the dissolution of the state. A de facto dissolution of Sykes-Picot," Hayden said.
UN confirms use of chemicals against Syrian soldiers
Meanwhile, a UN mission tasked with investigating accusations of chemical attacks in Syria said there were credible reports that the militants had staged chemical attacks against Syrian troops as well as civilians, Al-Manar reported.
The UN inspectors, led by Swedish expert Aake Sellstrom, handed a final report to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Friday, saying chemical weapons were probably used at least five times during the foreign-sponsored turmoil in the Arab country.
The report cited “evidence consistent with the probable use of chemical weapons” in the Syrian districts of Ghouta, Khan al-Assal, Jobar, Saraqueb and Ashrafieh Sahnaya.
The mission “collected clear and convincing evidence that chemical weapons were used also against civilians, including children, on a relatively large scale” in the Ghouta region, located in the suburbs of the Syrian capital, Damascus, on August 23, 2013.
The report also presented “credible information” that chemical arms were used against the Syrian soldiers and civilians in the town of Khan al-Assal near Syria’s northwestern city of Aleppo on March 19.
Chemical arms were also used on “a relatively small scale against soldiers” in the village of Jobar, on the outskirts of Damascus, on August 24, the report added.
According to the inspectors, evidence corroborated the probable use of chemical weapons against civilians in the northwestern city of Saraqeb in Idlib Province on April 29.
Banned arms were likely used against soldiers in Ashrafiah Sahnaya near Damascus on August 25, the report added.
The report, however, did not determine whether the Syrian government or foreign-backed Takfiri groups were behind the alleged attacks.
366 prisoners freed
In another development, Syrian authorities have freed for "humanitarian reasons" 366 detainees from Aleppo prison in the north of the country, state news agency SANA reported Friday.
According to AFP, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said a first group of 10 prisoners were freed Thursday and that more would follow, adding that most of the prisoners were convicted criminals.
"The authorities have released 366 detainees from Aleppo's central prison... for humanitarian reasons due to the siege imposed by terrorists," SANA said, referring to Al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Nusra Front and other terrorist groups.
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