Yesterday foreign ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi publicly acknowledged Syria's chemical arsenal for the first time, saying that “Those weapons will only be used in the case of exterior aggression.” Mr. Makdissi also said that the weapons “will not be used against Syrian civilians,” and that “they will never be used domestically no matter how the crisis evolves.”
But The Guardian writes that Syria's foreign ministry and information ministry have been "backpedaling furiously" from yesterday's statement, and speculates that Makdissi may have spoken out of turn. The Guardian notes that Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi said that "When the foreign ministry spokesman says that Syria will not use chemical weapons against its people, then this doesn't mean that Syria has such weapons in the first place." And the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) claimed today that Makdissi's comments were taken out of context "as a declaration of possessing non-traditional weapons."
The Ministry said that the goal of the statement and the press conference wasn't to declare but rather to respond to a methodical media campaign targeting Syria to prepare world public opinion for the possibility of military intervention under the false premise of weapons of mass destruction (similar to what happened with Iraq) or the possibility of using such weapons against terrorist groups or civilians, or transporting them to a third party.