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Fears of Syria chemical arms founded but use unlikely

Published on Dec 11, 2012 11:54 AM

MANAMA (AFP) - Fears that the Syrian regime could resort to using its arsenal of chemical weapons against rebels are well-founded, Western officials say, but experts at a security forum said Damascus is unlikely to unleash these arms.

"We are extremely concerned about the stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, and we are also concerned about evidence during the last couple of weeks that the regime could use them," British Foreign Secretary William Hague told reporters on Saturday at the Manama regional security forum.

His views were echoed by US Republic Senator John McCain who said it was a "tough" question facing the global community.

The United States and the Arab world could "face a very, very tough decision, that is whether we should do anything, and if so, what, because of this threat that is now posed by (President) Bashar al-Assad assembling these weapons of mass destruction", Mr McCain told participants at the gathering.

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