Syria's chemical weapons threat horrifies international community
Embattled civilians 'don't even have time to think about chemical weapons'
Syria's tacit admission that it has weapons of mass destruction, or WMD,
in particular chemical weapons has horrified members of the
international community, While the Syrian government has reiterated that
it would never use these weapons against the civilian population in the
ongoing uprising, world leaders have not been mollified.
Syrian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Jihad Makdissi says that his nation is in 'self-defense' mode, but ruled out use of the weapons even against rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
At a news conference in Damascus, Makdissi said that "Any stocks of WMD or any unconventional weapons that the Syrian Arab Republic possesses would never, would never be used against civilians or against the Syrian people during this crisis at any circumstances, no matter how the crisis would evolve, no matter how."
While Syria has previously never admitted to having chemical weapons, it is widely believed that the country has such an arsenal.
Makdissi has stressed that Syria would "never use chemical and biological weapons during the crisis... and that such weapons, if they exist, it is natural for them to be stored and secured", the AFP news agency reported.
Al Jazeera's correspondent Rula Amin says that there were "more immediate [and] imminent threats" for Syrians to worry about than chemical weapons.
"People on the ground are very anxious from everyday shelling and [the] crackdown. They don't even have time to think about chemical weapons," she said.
Makdissi's comments drew swift international reaction, with U.S. President Barack Obama warning the Assad regime would be held "accountable if he made the tragic mistake" of using the weapons.
"They should not think one iota about using chemical weapons," George Little, the Pentagon press secretary told journalists.
The U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, expressing concern about the risk of Syria using WMD, told reporters in Belgrade, Serbia, that "It would be incomprehensible if anyone in Syria would use weapons of mass destruction," Ban told reporters during a visit to Serbia.
European Union foreign ministers also weighed in, branding Syria's threat as "monstrous" and "unacceptable."
"Threatening to use chemical weapons is monstrous," Guido Westerwelle, the German foreign minister, said in a statement.
His British counterpart, William Hague, said: "It is unacceptable to say they would use chemical weapons under any circumstances."
© 2012, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Syria, WMD, United nations, international community
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