Daily Israel Report

Assad Regime 'Ready to Use Chemical Weapons'

The most senior Syrian politician to defect to the opposition told the BBC that regime will not hesitate to use chemical weapons.
By Rachel Hirshfeld
First Publish: 7/17/2012, 10:04 AM

Picture of Syrian Pres. Bashar al-Assad
Picture of Syrian Pres. Bashar al-Assad
israel news photo: Flash 90

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will not hesitate to use chemical weapons against opposition forces and may have already deployed them, Nawaf Fares, the first Syrian ambassador to defect since the uprising against Assad began, told the BBC on Monday.

Fares, a former ambassador to Iraq, insisted that Assad’s days are numbered but warned that the president would be prepared "to eradicate the entire Syrian people" in order to remain in power.

"I am convinced that if Bashar al-Assad's regime is further cornered by the people -- he would use such weapons," Fares said. 

"There is information, unconfirmed information, that chemical weapons have been used in Homs," he added.

Syria has a large stock of chemical weapons and neighboring countries are increasingly concerned about what will happen to them if the regime topples.

"It is absolutely sure that this government will fall in a short time," he told the BBC from his refuge in Qatar. "We wish for this time to be short so that more sacrifices are reduced."

"It doesn't occur to any Syrian, not only me, that Bashar al-Assad will let go of power through political interventions... He will be ousted only by force," he added.

Fares was dismissive of UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan's current visit to Russia, saying success there was "impossible."

"Several months have passed and... the regime hasn't implemented a single article of (Kofi Annan's) plan," he added.

The ex-ambassador to Iraq announced his defection on July 11 and has been widely perceived as a regime hardliner, with his decision to break ranks triggering suspicion among activists.

Some dissidents say Fares has been likely groomed by the West to play a role in a transitional government.

Syria's military deployed armored vehicles near central Damascus on Monday as troops battled rebels around the capital in what activists said could be a turning point in the 16-month uprising.

Fares said the spread of violence to the capital proved that the "expansion and the power of the revolution was increasing day-by-day."