Syria denies stockpiling chemical weapons, brands use 'unacceptable'

Syria denies stockpiling chemical weapons, brands use 'unacceptable'
Syria's deputy foreign minister has denied the state possesses chemical weapons and branded their use "immoral" after France threatened to strike if the regime was proved responsible for chlorine attacks.
2 min read
14 February, 2018
According to Washington, at least six chlorine attacks have been reported since early January [Getty]

The Syrian regime on Wednesday denied it possessed chemical weapons and said the use of such arms was "immoral and unacceptable", following a French warning of punitive strikes.

"Syria's government categorically denies possessing... chemical weapons. We consider the use of such arms as immoral and unacceptable, whatever the context," said Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad, quoted by state news agency SANA.

On Tuesday, France's President Emmanuel Macron warned his country would launch strikes if proof emerged that the Syrian regime had used banned chemical weapons against its civilians.

According to Washington, at least six chlorine attacks have been reported since early January in rebel-held areas, resulting in dozens of injuries.

Damascus last month also denied carrying out chemical attacks and its ally Moscow denounced such charges as a "propaganda campaign", stressing the perpetrators had not been identified.

Read more: Normalising Assad's chemical weapon savagery

France, like the United States, suspects the Syrian regime but says it does not yet have concrete evidence on the nature and origin of the attacks.

Damascus has repeatedly been accused of using chemical weapons, with the United Nations among those blaming government forces for an April 2017 sarin gas attack on the opposition-held Idlib village of Khan Sheikhun that left scores dead.

In retaliation for that alleged attack the US carried out cruise missile strikes on a Syrian regime airbase. 

Veto-wielding Russia has been blamed for blocking international efforts to tackle the trend and to take action against those responsible for the killings. 

Syria in 2013 became a Party to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and hence is should be legally committed to the Convention's prohibitions against the development, production, stockpiling or use of chemical weapons. 

In February 2015, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said 98 percent of chemical weapons declared by Syria had been verified by the OPCW as destroyed and that production sites were being torn down.

The alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria by the Assad regime suggests either the state was not honest in its declarations to the OPCW, or that manufacturing facilities have been re-established. 

Earlier this month, senior US officials said frequent smaller chemical attacks by pro-Assad forces suggest new weapons and methods of delivery are being developed by the Syrian regime.

Agencies contributed to this report.