Two Syrian officials have denied Western allegations that the government in Damascus has used chemical weapons against foreign-backed militants. An unnamed Syrian government official said on Friday that President Bashar Assad's military "did not and will not use chemical weapons even if it had them," AP news agency reported. He added that the Syrian army has no need for using chemical weapons "because it is capable of reaching any area in Syria it wants" without them. He instead accused foreign-backed militants fighting against the Syrian government of using chemical weapons. The official stated that there are strong documents proving militants’ use of chemical weapons in an attack on the village of Khan al-Assal outside of the northern city of Aleppo in March. Another Syrian official, lawmaker Sharif Shehadeh, also said that the Syrian army "can win the war with traditional weapons" and has no need for chemical weapons. Shehadeh described the US claims that the Syrian government is using chemical weapons as "lies" and likened them to faulty intelligence about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to justify the US-led invasion of that country in 2003.
"What is being designed for Syria now is similar to what happened in Iraq when Colin Powell lied in the Security Council and said Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction prior to the US invasion and occupation of that country," he said.Meanwhile, Syrian troops have pushed into several neighborhoods in Damascus suburbs and inflicted heavy losses on militants operating in the area. According to Syria's official news agency, SANA, dozens of militants were killed and injured during clashes in Damascus suburbs of Joubar, Zamalka and Barzeh al-Balad. HM/JR/SS