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Syria condemns Western threats over chemical weapons allegations

DAMASCUS, Aug.  (Xinhua) -- The Syrian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday condemned the tripartite statement by the United States, Britain, and France, in which the three powers warned Syria of chemical weapons use as the Syrian army is poised for a possible battle on the last major rebel stronghold in Syria.

The Syrian ministry condemned the Western statement as part of "the campaign of threats, hypocrisy, and misinformation resorted to by those powers against the Syrian Arab Republic, which comes in the framework of the outright support to the terrorist groups."

A day earlier, the United States, France, and Britain warned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against using chemical weapons, warning that "we remain resolved to act if the Assad regime uses chemical weapons again."

The three Western powers stressed their "concern at the potential for further and illegal use of chemical weapons" in Syria.

"As we have demonstrated, we will respond appropriately to any further use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime, which has had such devastating humanitarian consequences for the Syrian population," the three powers said in their statement.

The three powers had launched a missile attack on Syrian military positions in April. At the time, they said they had targeted the facilities involved in the manufacture of chemical weapons in Syria.

But the Syrian government has repeatedly denied the allegations and said the Western powers were creating pretexts to strike Syria as such statements could encourage the rebels to stage such an attack to frame the Syrian army.

In its statement Wednesday, the Foreign Ministry said: "the Western countries, particularly the United States, France and the UK resort once again to launching campaigns of threats, misinformation, and hypocrisy in the framework of supporting the terrorist groups, including the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front."

"The new campaign of aggressive threats... comes after the victories of the Syrian army and its allies across Syria, which unequivocally proved the defeat of the allies of the West (rebels)," the ministry said.

While stressing that the Syrian forces have never used chemical weapons, the ministry charged that the rebels have used chemical weapons under the direct support of the Western powers as well as some regional countries such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar.

The ministry said that it had informed concerned international parties a few days ago about the information that the rebels are planning a fresh gas attack in Syria.

It said the Western statement comes to support any chemical attack by the rebels to use it as a pretext to attack Syria.

The statement also comes as the Syrian government forces are poised for a possible attack on Idlib province, which is the last major stronghold for the rebels as the Syrian army recaptured much of the rebel-held areas across the country in recent months.

The Western statement also comes on the fifth anniversary of the alleged chemical attack that took place in the formerly rebel-held Eastern Ghouta countryside of the capital Damascus in 2013.

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