Carnegie's Paul Schulte spoke to BBC Wales about the situation in Syria, where 40,000 people have died since the uprising began in March last year. Schulte pointed out that it is very widely believed that Syria possesses weapons of mass destruction and that the United States claims to have sufficient intelligence on specific chemicals.

"It's most likely that they [Syria] have a quite large chemical arsenal because they have been doing this over a number of years, and even apparently in the last few months they have been trying to build up their stocks," Schulte said, adding that the chemicals in the arsenal would "be in different stages of preparation."

But the new news, Schulte pointed out, is that specific chemicals are being brought together to make an extremely modern and potent nerve gas called sarin. "We might be entering an endgame of a civil war in which atrocity becomes almost unavoidable because of the fear of reprisals," said Schulte, adding that "nobody is very attracted by the idea of getting drawn into a Syrian civil war."

To Schulte, the deployment of Patriot missile batteries along the Turkish border with Syria is about reassuring the Turks who "are in the front line of this very difficult situation." "It's a way of NATO emphasizing its solidarity," Schulte concluded.