Syria threatens to use chemical weapons if attacked

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BEIRUT (AP) — Syria is threatening to use chemical and biological weapons in case of a foreign attack, but says it would never use them against its own citizens.

The statement today from a Foreign Ministry spokesman was Syria's first acknowledgement that it possesses weapons of mass destruction, something that's long been suspected.

The spokesman said in a televised news conference that "all of these types of weapons are in storage and under security" and that they "will never be used unless Syria is exposed to external aggression."

Later, the government claimed the remarks were taken out of context. It sent journalists an amended statement that attempted to back away from the announcement and revert to its previous position of neither confirming nor denying the existence of unconventional weapons.

Syria is believed to have nerve agents as well as mustard gas, Scud missiles capable of delivering lethal chemicals and a variety of advanced conventional arms, including portable anti-aircraft missiles.

Israel has said it won't rule out military action to keep such weapons from falling into the hands of its enemies.

%@AP Links

187-v-29-(Mark Lavie (lah-VEE'), AP Middle East correspondent)--Syria promises not to use its chemical weapons on rebels. More from AP Middle East Correspondent Mark Lavie in Cairo. (23 Jul 2012)

<<CUT *187 (07/23/12)>> 00:29

188-c-14-(Mark Lavie (lah-VEE'), AP Middle East correspondent)-"hands of extremists"-AP Middle East Correspondent Mark Lavie in Cairo reports Syria is talking about its chemical weapons. (23 Jul 2012)

<<CUT *188 (07/23/12)>> 00:14 "hands of extremists"

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