Syria Threatens Use Of Chemical Weapons If Attacked
Syria is adding some bluster to its response to pressure from the West, while at the same time trying to avoid giving reasons for intervention:
BEIRUT (AP) — The Syrian regime threatened Monday to use its chemical and biological weapons in case of a foreign attack, in its first ever acknowledgement that it possesses weapons of mass destruction.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi stressed, however, that Damascus would not use its unconventional arms against its own citizens. The announcement comes as Syria faces international isolation, a tenacious rebellion that has left at least 19,000 people dead and threats by Israel to attack to prevent such weapons from falling into rebel hands.
Syria’s decision to reveal the long suspected existence of its chemical weapons suggests a desperate regime deeply shaken by an increasingly bold revolt that has scored a string of successes in the past week, including a stunning bomb attack that killed four high-level security officials, the capture of several border crossings and sustained offensives on the regime strongholds of Damascus and Aleppo.
“No chemical or biological weapons will ever be used, and I repeat, will never be used, during the crisis in Syria no matter what the developments inside Syria,” Makdissi said in news conference broadcast on Syrian state TV. “All of these types of weapons are in storage and under security and the direct supervision of the Syrian armed forces and will never be used unless Syria is exposed to external aggression.”
While the statement Makdissi read out promised not to use the weapons against the Syrian people, he later noted that Damascus is not facing an internal enemy in the rebellion, which the regime has described as being funded from abroad and driven by foreign extremists.
He added that there was a foreign political and media campaign “that seeks to justify and prepare international public opinion for military intervention under the false pretense of weapons of mass destruction.”
Jihad Makdissi, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, read a statement at a news conference in Damascus 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 use them only in case of an external attack, he said.
“They will not be used against Syrian civilians,” Mr. Makdissi said. “They will never be used domestically no matter how this crisis evolves. Those weapons will only be used in the case of exterior aggression.”
Take it for what it’s worth I suppose. Clearly, though, the Syrians don’t want the impression to be created that they are willing, planning, or would consider using chemical weapons on civilians or on rebel forces. As I’ve noted before, if anything is likely to cause the West to act, it would be that.