The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

December 6, 2012

Syria criticizes NATO move on Patriot missiles

(Continued)

Mekdad denounced the NATO move and the chemical weapons "chorus" as part of a conspiracy that is possibly laying out the foundations for a military intervention in Syria.

Syria has been careful not to confirm it has chemical weapons while insisting it would never use such weapons against its own people

"I repeat for the hundredth time that even if such weapons exist in Syria, they will not be used against the Syrian people," Mekdad said in an interview with Lebanon's Al-Manar TV station. "We cannot possibly commit suicide, Syria is a responsible country."

Mekdad added that the Syrian government is worried the U.S. or some European countries could provide "terrorist" organizations in Syria with chemical weapons to use, then blame the government.

Asked about NATO's approval to send Patriot missiles to Turkey, Mekdad said "there is absolutely no justification for that because Syria will not attack the friendly people of Turkey."

He said Syria's problem was with the Turkish government led by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which he said has funded and trained "terrorists" and opened its borders for al-Qaida fighters to come to Syria.

He said the Turkish government was "bankrupt" and was "begging for assistance from NATO countries."

"The Turkish move and NATO's support for it is a provocative move, part of psychological warfare against Syria," Mekdad said. "But if they think this will affect our determination to fight the terrorists ... they are wrong."

He warned that any foreign military intervention against Syria will be "catastrophic" with severe consequences.

NATO agreed earlier this week to send the weapons to prevent cross-border attacks against Turkey after mortar rounds and shells from Syria killed five Turks.

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