Russia says West overly exaggerates size of chemical weapons stockpiles in Syria

The stockpiles of chemical weapons are not so large in Syria as the West claims they are, and Russia does not plan to send special forces to Syria to watch over them, the daily Kommersant writes on Wednesday.

"Intelligence available to us indicates that the stockpiles of chemical weapons are not so large in Syria as the West says they are," a source in the Russian General Staff told the newspaper, but did not elaborate, citing secrecy reasons.

The West claims Syria possesses a large arsenal of sarin, yperite, cyanides and other toxic agents, according to the Kommersant.

The General Staff source also refuted Western media assertions that Russian special forces could be sent to Syria to take the chemical weapons stockpiles under control should the situation develop Libya-style, in the wake of French media reports about an alleged agreement reached on this between Russia and Israel, the newspaper said.

The opposition Free Syrian Army circulated a statement on Tuesday saying that the government forces are redeploying chemical weapons to airfields located near the state borders, earlier reports said.

Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi said earlier that the Syrian government could use chemical weapons. "We will only use chemical weapons in the event of external aggression," Makdissi said.

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