BEIRUT

Middle East

U.S. warns Syria not to use chemical weapons

The Pentagon. (AP)

WASHINGTON: The United States warned Syria Monday not to even consider using chemical weapons after Damascus raised the possibility of employing its stockpile of unconventional arms in the case of an outside attack.

"They should not think one iota about using chemical weapons," Pentagon press secretary George Little told reporters.

"We have been very strong in our statements inside the US government on the prospective use of chemical weapons and it would be entirely unacceptable," Little said.

His comments came after Syria acknowledged it has chemical weapons and said it would use them if attacked though not against its own civilians, amid a bloody conflict between regime troops and rebel forces.

The warning by foreign ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi coincides with mounting international concern that Damascus may deploy its chemical arsenal to crush a 16-month uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.

"When chemical weapons are mentioned in the press by Syrian officials, that raises concerns," Little said.

"We would strongly object -- to put it mildly -- to any thinking that would generate a motivation on the part of the Syrian regime to employ these weapons," he added.

The White House said on Sunday that the United States would "hold accountable" any Syrian official involved in the release or use of the country's chemical weapons.

 

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