Syria security official says rebels have missiles, sarin gas
DAMASCUS - Agence France-Presse
Volunteers take part in a simulation of how to respond to a chemical attack, in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on September 15, 2013. AFP PhotoSyria rebels possess ground-to-ground missiles and sarin, and a UN report on chemical weapons use shows they carried out attacks near Damascus, a high-ranking Syrian security source said Tuesday.
"I categorically deny that we have used sarin gas, for the reason that we had no interest in doing so. We were winning in the battlefield," the official said a day after a UN report on an August 21 attack was published.
"It is generally the losers who adopt such a suicidal attitude. On the contrary, the army was winning," he told AFP.
The UN investigation team said in its report that it had "clear and convincing" evidence that sarin gas was used in an August 21 attack on rebel areas near Damascus, and that chemical weapons have been used on a "relatively large-scale" in the 30-month-old Syrian conflict.
The UN report does not say who used the weapons, though the opposition and its allies have blamed Assad's troops.
According to the Syrian security source, "the terrorists locally manufacture ground-to-ground missiles, and it is highly likely that they used them to transport" the toxic chemical sarin.
President Bashar al-Assad's regime has systematically referred to opponents and rebels fighting its loyalists as "terrorists".
"Of course the rebels know how to load missiles with sarin. They have been trained by the US, French and British secret services, which are active on the ground," said the source.
Asked why the Syrian army stocked chemical arms, he said: "At a particular time in history, there was the desire to have this kind of weapon to create a strategic balance with Israel.
"It was nothing more than a way to dissuade the Zionist enemy, which has an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction."