Beirut: Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said he was assured by Syria that the cache of chemical weapons is under firm custody and will not be used, a media report said Thursday.
The furore over chemical weapons was triggered last month when Syria acknowledged for the first time that it had chemical and biological weapons and said it could use them if foreign countries intervened. The threat drew strong warnings from Washington and its allies.
US President Barack Obama on Monday warned Bashar al-Assad that American forces could move into Syria and act against him if he chooses to deploy his chemical weapons against rebel fighters.
Obama said that chemical weapons would be seen as “red line” by the US and would change his calculus regarding Syria, hinting at a possible military action.
Russia, which along with China, has thrice vetoed three UN Security Council resolutions against Syria, too agrees this time with America over the threat of chemical weapons being used by Syria. Russia says it’s working with Syria to ensure that weapons of mass destruction are not used.
Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov was quoted by a news agency as saying, "We have guarantees from the Syrian government that it will not take any steps involving chemical weapons".
Russia has shielded Assad's regime from UN sanctions and continued to provide it with weapons throughout the 18-month conflict, which activists estimate has killed more than 20,000 people.
(With Agency inputs)
First Published: Friday, August 24, 2012, 00:39