By Carlo Muñoz - 01/08/13 10:28 PM EST
"I'm unaware of any information that would suggest that the Syrians are planning the imminent use of chemical weapons or deployment of chemical weapons," Pentagon press secretary George Little told reporters on Tuesday.
"The Syrian regime has an obligation to maintain security over [its] chemical weapons stockpiles. And I have not heard of a change in [that] assessment," Little told reporters during a briefing at the Pentagon.
The DOD spokesman reiterated that any attempt by government troops loyal to Assad to use chemical weapons against rebel forces looking to topple the embattled leader would cross a red line and demand a U.S. military response.
"This government would view that kind of action as a red line. Senior officials in this government have been very clear about that. And we will continue to do so," according to Little.
Details of that proposed military response reportedly began coming together late last December, when DOD planners drafted options for a potential preemptive strike against those weapons located near the Turkey-Syrian border.
News of the military planning came days after President Obama's speech at the National Defense University last December, where he said the use of chemical weapons by the Assad government against rebel fighters "would be totally unacceptable" and trigger an immediate and overwhelming response by the United States.
"The world is watching," Obama said at the time, in a warning directly aimed at Assad. "If you make the tragic mistake of using these weapons, there will be consequences, and you will be held accountable."
Days later, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta reiterated the president's comments, adding that any use of chemical weapons against Syrians would constitute crossing a "red line" that would inevitably draw a swift U.S. response.