Syria has other means of inflicting pain on its enemies, even without the use of chemical weapons, Syrian Prime Minister Wael Nader al-Halqi warned on Tuesday.
The fact that the government agreed to hand over its chemical weapons stockpile does not mean that it could not reach a strategic balance in other ways, al-Halqi said in an interview with a Lebanese newspaper, cited by Israel Radio on Tuesday.
When the Russian-US deal on Syria’s chemical weapons was announced Saturday, al-Halqi said the Assad regime accepted the proposal “to spare Syrian blood.”
On Monday, UN inspectors said there was “clear and convincing evidence” that chemical weapons were used on a relatively large scale in an attack last month in Syria that killed hundreds of people — over 1,400 according to the US.
The findings (click here to read the full report) represent the first official confirmation by scientific experts that chemical weapons were used in Syria’s civil war, but the report left the key question of who launched the attack unanswered.
In a press conference Monday in response to the report, US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power said that “the technical details of the UN report make clear that only the regime could have carried out this large-scale chemical weapons attack.”
President Barack Obama’s security adviser Susan Rice said that the evidence presented, particularly the type of rocket used and the high quality of the sarin, ”reinforces our assessment that these attacks were carried out by the Syrian regime, as only they had the capability to mount an attack in this manner.”
The rebels and their US and Western supporters have said the regime of President Bashar Assad was behind the August 21 attack, while the Syrian government and its closest ally, Russia, blame the rebels.
Also Monday, the head of the chemical weapons watchdog said the organization will move swiftly to help eliminate Syria’s chemical weapon stockpile.
Director-General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons Ahmet Uzumcu made the pledge Monday after UN inspectors reported finding “clear and convincing evidence” chemical weapons were used.
“It is envisaged… That the program to eliminate chemical weapons in Syria will be initiated in a matter of days,” the Hague-based OPCW said in a statement.
Uzumcu said Monday that the Chemical Weapons Convention goes into force in Syria on October 14, and Damascus will quickly provide the OPCW with “a complete inventory of its chemical weapons” and production facilities.
The organization will inspect production and storage sites and help secure them ahead of the weapons’ destruction.