Syria says chemical weapons will not be used on civilians

If the Assad regime resorts to the use of chemical or biological weapons on its own people, it sounds as though in that event, it will attribute the use of such weapons to foreign powers who supplied the weapons to rebels “so that Syrian forces can then be blamed.”

The New York Times reports: With street battles still flaring in Syria’s two main cities, the Syrian government said on Monday that its forces would never use chemical weapons in its domestic conflict, describing them as outside the bounds of the kind of guerrilla warfare they are fighting.

Jihad Makdissi, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, read a statement at a news conference addressing repeated questions about Syria’s chemical weapons that have arisen in recent days. The Syrian army has all stocks of such weapons under secure guard and would only use them in case of an external attack, he said.

“They will not be used against Syrian civilians,” Mr. Makdissi told the news conference in Damascus. “They will never be used domestically no matter how this crisis evolves. Those weapons will only be used in the case of exterior aggression.”

The Syrians were evidently taking a lesson from Iraq, where accusations of a chemical weapons stockpile was among the reasons used to justify the March 2003 American invasion. The Iraqi stockpile never materialized.

Mr. Makdissi said all the attention focused on the chemical weapons — also referred to as weapons of mass destruction — “aims to justify and prepare the international community’s military intervention in Syria under the false pretext of WMD.”

Al Arabiya reports: But Makdissi said the government was concerned that foreign states might supply rebels with unconventional weapons.

He warned against “the possibility of foreign parties arming terrorist groups… with bacteriological weapons that might explode in a village, so that Syrian forces can then be blamed.”

It appeared to be the first time that Syria acknowledged it might possess non-conventional weapons. Damascus is not a signatory to the 1992 Chemical Weapons Convention that bans their use, production or stockpiling.

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