Syria will never use chemical weapons against its own people: Spokesman

Syria has dismissed allegations that it intends to use chemical weapons to end months of unrest, stressing that it will never use weapons of mass destruction against its own people.

Without confirming the existence of chemical stockpiles, Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi said on Monday that if Damascus possessed chemical weapons they would be used in response to any “external aggression” and not during the internal conflict.

“Syria will not use any chemical or other unconventional weapons against its civilians, and will only use them in case of external aggression,” Makdissi told a media conference in the Syrian capital.

He also criticized the Arab League for urging President Bashar al-Assad to step down in return for a safe exit, saying that only Syrians can decide for the future of their country.

Makdissi also said that Damascus is committed to Kofi Annan’s peace plan and invited all opposition groups into negotiations. He, however, said that the Syrian army will continue to defend the civilians against armed groups fighting with the government.

“All who take up weapons in the face of the state will be responded in the same way,” he said, adding that the doors are open to all for dialogue.

Makdissi’s remarks came after White House spokesman Tommy Vietor and several Western media claimed that Damascus possesses and intends to use chemical weapons against its own people.

The allegations are believed to be the first attempts at orchestrating an Iraq-like scenario against Syria.

On July 18, the New York Times reported that US officials have recently been in talks with Israelis ”about whether Israel might move to destroy Syrian weapons facilities”.

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