The embattled Syrian government said on Monday that it has stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction and will not hesitate to use them in the event the country is invaded by foreigners.
Foreign ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi said that Damascus would not use unconventional arms against its own citizens, but would against foreign invaders.
Currently, Syria faces international isolation, a rebellion that has left more than 19,000 people dead, and threats from Israel of invading to prevent the weapons from falling into rebel hands. Syrian officials, before now, had not admitted that the country possessed WMDs, though speculation that it had them is long-standing.
“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 during a news conference on Syrian state television. “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.”
He noted, however, that Syria is facing domestic enemies in the rebellion, which the regime has described as being funded from abroad by foreign extremists.
U.S. intelligence officials say they are intensifying monitoring efforts to track the weapons and try to determine whether the Syrian government will use them.