Syria has assured Russia that its chemical weapons are secure, a Russian deputy foreign minister said Wednesday, repeating Moscow’s calls for Damascus not to use its stockpile.
“We have received firm assurances from Damascus that the security of these arsenals is fully ensured,” Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said in an interview with the ITAR-TASS news agency.
Gatilov stressed that Syria as a signatory of the Geneva protocol banning the use of chemical weapons “had taken on itself concrete obligations to renounce such methods of warfare.”
“We consider that Syria must fulfill its obligations,” he said.
He cautioned however that whatever the assurances of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, the chemical weapons could fall into the hands of the opposition.
“We must not forget about the other side of this question, namely that the armed opposition is acting there and here it cannot be ruled out that the arsenals of chemical weapons could somehow fall into their hands,” he said.
Syria admitted Monday that it possesses chemical weapons and warned that it would use them if it was attacked by an external aggressor, while saying it would not use them against its own civilians.
Russia responded Tuesday by urging its Soviet-era ally to comply with international treaties and refrain from using its chemical weapons, while not directly blaming Syria for making the threat.