Speaking to reporters at a news conference in Damascus, Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi at first said that the government troops would not hesitate in using chemical weapons if it faces a foreign attack.
Makdissi added that Syria would not use any unconventional weapons against its civilians and would use only in case of external aggression.
Makdissi then backtracked to his earlier acceptance of possessing the chemical weapons and said it would remain secured with Damascus if it has them. "Any stocks of chemical weapons that may exist, will never, ever be used against the Syrian people, adding, "the generals will be deciding when and how we use them," Makdissi told reporters.
The United States told Syria not to think one iota about using the chemical arms, adding if Syria ignores, Washington would hold Damascus responsible for it.
United Nations Chief Ban Ki-moon also condemned the possibilities of using a chemical weapon, urging the international community to "have an obligation not to use any weapons of mass destruction, whether they are parties or not to any convention or agreement." Ban immediately sent a two-member U.N. delegation comprising its peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous and chief military adviser General Babacar Gaye to Syria as chemical weapon news surfaced.
Syrian President Assad, meanwhile, rejected an Arab League's (AL) resignation call. "We are sorry that the AL has descended to this level concerning a member state of this institution. This decision only concerns the Syrian people, who are the sole masters of the fate of their governments," Makdissi said. The minister's comments came a day after the regional bloc urged Assad to give up power with a promise and he and his family will be given safe exit from the country.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki denounced AL's call and described it as interference in country's politics. To give humanitarian support, Maliki reversed his earlier decision and instructed the Red Crescent as well as the government troops to open doors for Syrian refugees seeking shelter in Iraq. Thousands of Syrian fled to neighboring nations in the wake of rising violence in the country, particularly in the capital.
Syria's main ally Russia has said that if foreign forces would support rebels in removing President Bashar al-Assad from power, it may result in a delayed civil war. "We are afraid that if the country's current leadership is removed from power unconstitutionally, then the opposition and today's leadership may simply change places," Putin said as quoted by Interfax news agency. In such a case "a civil war will stretch on for who knows how long," the Russian leader said.
In a related development, the European Union strengthened arms embargo sanctions against Syria under which it would inspect planes and vessels suspected of carrying arms. EU foreign ministers held talks on sanctions in Brussels. They also decided to block assets of 26 Syrians and three firms close to the Assad regime. This was the 17th round of sanctions since uprising began last year's.
The bloc is also considering evacuating its nations from crisis-hit nation via Cyprus, if need arises, said Cypriot Home Affairs Minister Eleni Mavrou, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency.
Syrian government troops, meanwhile, regained control of most parts of capital Damascus from armed rebels at the end of weeklong heavy clashes between the armed forces and opposition. However, fighting still continues in Aleppo and human right activists claimed the nationwide violence killed more than 50 people, including 24 civilians.
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