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Syria faces military showdown amid chemical weapon fears

English.news.cn   2012-12-05 22:43:12            
 • Military showdown around Syria's capital Damascus continued Wednesday.
• World's superpowers have started to bring up subject of Syria's chemical arsenal.
 • Syrian officials and observers believe U.S. talks of chemical weapons could be pretext of future intervention.


DAMASCUS, Dec. 5 (Xinhua) -- Military showdown around Syria's capital Damascus continued Wednesday as the government troops are trying to push the rebels away from the surroundings of the capital at a time when fears mount about Syria's chemical weapon, local officials said.

Operations by the Syrian army were reported to have continued Wednesday in the eastern and southwestern outskirts of Damascus, such as Daraya and the towns close to the international airport of Damascus, like Bait Sahem and Akraba.

The eastern al-Ghouta area has also been bombarded by the government troops, reports said.

Syrian war jets, meanwhile, have been hovering over the capital in what appeared to be a preparation to hit rebels' strongholds around the capital.

Earlier in the day, the pro-government al-Watan daily said the Syrian army continued its manhunt of armed groups at the surrounding towns of the airport road in Damascus, leaving scores of armed men killed.

The rebels, who are now mixed with foreign jihadists and al- Qaida-linked fighters, have been trying to cut off the road to the airport and wage intensive attacks to bring down the capital, the seat-place of al-Assad.

The Syrian forces, in response, unleashed great firepower to prevent those elements from inching toward the heart of the capital. Sources said that more than 2,000 rebels have been killed over the past week in the airport operations.

As the clashes on ground is gaining momentum day after day in what appeared to be a death match between the conflicting parties, the world's superpowers, like the United States and its allies in the region, have started to bring up the subject of Syria's chemical arsenal and further expressed fears that the Syrian administration might use those weapons in their fights.

Washington warned the Syrian administration not to make the " tragic mistake" of using those weapons.

In response, the Syrian government stressed in a statement that it will not use those weapons, "if it had them," in its fights.

Government officials and observers here believe that the U.S. talks of chemical weapons could be pretext of future intervention.

"The West is looking for an excuse for direct intervention. If this excuse does not work, it will look for another excuse," Syrian Deputy Prime Minister, Qadri Jamil told journalists after meeting with Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow recently.

Alongside the chemical weapons issues, NATO has approved the Turkish government's request to deploy Patriot missiles along the Turkish borders with Syria, which is also seen as a part of the new round of international pressure against Syria.

Media reports revealed on Wednesday Russia's intention to provide the Syrian administration with Iskander Missiles in the face of the U.S. Patriots, which highlighted the international powers' division over the Syrian issue.


White House raises prospect of chemical weapon use by Syrian govt

WASHINGTON, Dec. 3 (Xinhua) -- The White House claimed on Monday that the Syrian government headed by President Bashar al-Assad might approach its stockpile of chemical weapons in an desperate effort to halt the aggressive opposition forces in their 21-month conflict.

Syria's Foreign Ministry reiterated its pledge earlier in the day not to use the stockpile against its own people, urging Washington to stop fabricating such claims.  Full story

Editor: Liu
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