The spectre is looming larger of a desperate Syrian regime resorting to chemical weapons in order to survive the growing armed assault against it.
In a statement read out Monday on Syrian state television, Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi attempted to reassure people that “no chemical or biological weapons will ever be used … during the crisis in Syria no matter what the developments inside Syria.”
However, addressing Syrian journalists, Mr. Makdissi added: “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.”
Not only was this the first time Syria ever had publicly acknowledged it possesses such weapons of mass destruction, but the statement also made clear the regime of Bashar al-Assad is willing to use them if “exposed to external aggression.”
Such a threat wouldn’t necessarily come from another country invading Syria, says Barry Rubin, director of the Global Research in International Affairs Center in Israel. Rather, “external aggression is exactly how the regime describes the current uprising” being carried out by “terrorists” and “foreign interests.”
“The good news,” says Mr. Rubin, author of The Truth About Syria, “is that the regime still is in control of the stockpiles and has been doing a good job of securing them.”
The chemical weapons, such as Sarin, a nerve gas developed in Nazi Germany and used in the 1995 terrorist attack on the Tokyo subway, and VX, an even more deadly nerve agent, as well as mustard gas of the sort employed in the First World War, are believed to be secured in two or three well-guarded compounds in the centre of the country.