Syria Scoffs at US Claim It Has Iraqi Weapons
Published on Sunday, January 25, 2004 by Reuters
Syria Scoffs at US Claim It Has Iraqi Weapons

DAMASCUS - Syria brushed aside Sunday U.S. accusations that it has Iraqi weapons of mass destruction as a cover story for what it called U.S. failure in Iraq

"This (allegation) is meant to mislead (the public opinion). So long as there were no weapons of mass destruction (found) in Iraq itself how can they be in Syria?" Information Minister Ahmad al-Hassan told reporters.

U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Pat Roberts said Wednesday there was some concern Iraqi weapons of mass destruction had gone to Syria.

Syria, which vehemently opposed the U.S.-led war in neighboring Iraq, has repeatedly denied U.S. charges it has its own weapons of mass destruction programs.

"They are seeking to cover their failure," Hassan said after a meeting with a delegation of Iraqi journalists and artists in Damascus.

Bush, seeking re-election in November with Iraq high on the campaign agenda, ordered U.S.-led forces to oust former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein after accusing him of possessing chemical and biological arms and trying to build a nuclear weapon.

However, the leader of the U.S. team in charge of the search for banned weapons in Iraq, David Kay, resigned Friday and said he had concluded there were no Iraqi stockpiles to be found.

Hassan urged a swift end for the occupation of Iraq and a role for the United Nations to allow fellow Arab Iraqis to elect a national government.

He urged Iraqis to safeguard their country's unity and said all Arab nations oppose the division of the occupied Arab state.

Copyright 2004 Reuters Ltd