Syria will defend itself by 'all means available', West is warned
on 27/08/2013 12:16:40
Walid al-Moallem says Syria has two choices, either to surrender or fight back, and it will choose the latter.
He declined to elaborate or say to what specific means he was referring.
Al-Moallem spoke at a press conference in the Syrian capital Damascus amid growing international support for military action against Syria in response to what US Secretary of State John Kerry said was "undeniable" evidence of a large-scale chemical attack likely launched by Damascus.
Al-Moallem challenged anyone accusing the Syrian regime of using chemical weapons to provide proof.
The deputy foreign minister Faysal Mikdad earlier said an attack on Syria would trigger "chaos in the entire world".
"If individual countries want to pursue aggressive and adventurous policies, the natural answer ... would be that Syria, which has been fighting against terrorism for almost three years, will also defend itself against any international attack," he added.
Mr Kerry said chemical weapons were used in Syria and he accused Bashar Assad's regime of destroying evidence. He said the US had additional information about the attack and would make it public in the days ahead.
"The indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity. By any standard, it is inexcusable and - despite the excuses and equivocations that some have manufactured - it is undeniable," said Mr Kerry.
"This international norm cannot be violated without consequences."
Assad has denied launching a chemical attack, blaming the rebels instead, and has authorised a UN team of experts currently in Syria to investigate, although the US said it was a step that came "too late to be credible".
Syria accused Mr Kerry of lying by claiming there is "undeniable" evidence of a large-scale chemical weapons attack in Syria likely carried out by the regime.
A statement on the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency says Mr Kerry's insistence on "jumping over" the work of UN experts in Syria shows that the US has deliberate intentions to exploit events. The statement said Mr Kerry has "fabricated" evidence.
The UK's armed forces are also drawing up contingency plans for military action, Downing Street said today.
A decision on whether to recall the UK's Parliament this week will be made later today, officials said.
Downing Street said all options were still on the table but insisted that no decision has been made over what form of action to take.
A team of United Nations chemical weapons experts in Syria has delayed a second trip to investigate an alleged poison gas attack near Damascus by one day.
The UN says the decision was made in order to improve preparedness and safety for the team, after unidentified snipers opened fire on their convoy on Monday.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said at a press conference earlier that the trip was postponed because of disputes between rebel groups. The UN statement only mentioned security precautions.
It urged all sides in the conflict to give safe passage and access to the team, adding it was in the interest of all sides to cooperate with the investigation.