Syrian govt gives guarantees of chemical arms safety to Moscow

The Syrian authorities have assured Russia that they will take all of the measures needed to keep Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles safe and will not allow them to fall into the hands of other participants in the conflict, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said.

"We, for our part, have already worked with the Syrian government and have raised this issue. We have been given very strong assurances that everything possible will be done to stop it happening. Guarantees were also given that the chemical weapons will reliably remain in their current place," Gatilov said in an interview published on the Russian Foreign Ministry's website on Friday.

"They assured us that very serious control is being exercised over the safety of these weapons, and there is no threat today that something could happen to them or the situation could get out of control," the Russian diplomat said.

The presence of terrorist elements, including Al Qaeda members, within the Syrian opposition is a well known fact, he said.

"In our opinion, all sides currently involved in the Syrian situation, including foreign players, ought to produce any possible influence in order to prevent it from happening. We are prepared to continue our efforts and work with the Syrian government in order to verify the safety of these chemical weapons. But we hope that our partners who are able to influence the opposition will work in this direction as well because any loss of control over the situation is fraught with the most serious complications both for Syria and the region as a whole," Gatilov said.

Moscow does not know for certain whether Washington's control over Syria's opposition forces is serious enough to prevent weapons of mass destruction from falling into their hands, Gatilov said.

"We cannot say for certain to what extent our Western partners are controlling the opposition," he said.

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