Syrian armed opposition may be ordered by its foreign sponsors to stage a false flag operation against foreign inspectors when they arrive in the country to monitor destruction of the country’s chemical weapons stockpile, says the Syrian president.
Bashar Assad voiced his concerns in an interview by China’s state television CCTV in Damascus. The Syrian leader proposed this possible scenario as he was explaining how his government may be accused of trying to dodge its obligations to destroy its chemical arsenal.
“We know that these terrorists are obeying the orders of other countries and these countries do drive these terrorists to commit acts that could get the Syrian government blamed for hindering this agreement,” he explained.
Russia brokered an agreement with Syria to dispose of its stockpile of chemical weapons amid US threats to use military force against Syrian army over alleged use of sarin gas, which killed an estimated 1,400 people in August.
Moscow expects the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which received detailed inventory of the Syrian arsenal last week, to prepare a deadline for the operation. It also plans to work with other members of the UN Security Council on a resolution, which would support the OPCW plan and provide for security of the inspectors, who would control the disarmament.
But Washington, London and Paris are insisting on a UNSC resolution which would involve punitive measures against Damascus for any possible hindering of the operation under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter. Chapter 7 allows for the enforcement of Security Council resolutions with military action. Russia opposes such provisions.
Speaking on the UNSC debate, Assad said the three Western powers are fighting an ‘imaginary enemy’.
“By submitting the draft to the UN Security Council, or by urging the US and Russia to agree on a deal, the US, France, and Britain are just trying to make themselves winners in a war against a Syria which is their imaginary enemy,” he said.
The president said he was assured that Russia and China would “ensure any excuse for military action against Syria will not stand.”
Asked for details on the stockpile of chemical weapons, Assad said, “Syria has been manufacturing chemical weapons for decades so it’s normal for there to be large quantities in the country.”
The WMD arsenal was created due to Syria’s confrontation with Israel, the Syrian leader said.
“We are a nation at war, we’ve got territories that have been occupied for more than 40 years, but in any case, the Syrian army is trained to fight using conventional weapons,” Assad assured.
While admitting that the security situation in Syria is far from perfect for the work of OPCW inspectors, Assad said the weapons are safe from being captured by any party.
They are stored “under special conditions to prevent any terrorist for other destructive forces from tampering with them, that is, destructive forces that could come from other countries,” he said.
“So there is nothing to worry about. The chemical weapons in Syria are in a safe place that is secure and under the control of the Syrian army.”
Earlier China said it is willing to send experts to contribute to the OPCW’s mission to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons. Russia pledged its assistance, which would probably involve securing locations where the stockpile would be processed.