(Adds Fabius on Assad's future, background)
PARIS, July 24 (Reuters) - Any use of chemical weapons by
Syrian government forces would be unacceptable, French Foreign
Minister Laurent Fabius said on Tuesday.
Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi,
acknowledging for the first time that his country had chemical
and biological weapons, said on Monday the Syrian army would not
use chemical weapons to crush rebels but could use them against
forces from outside the country.
"Any use of chemical arms is completely unacceptable.
President Obama made statements to this effect and so have
others... These weapons are under strict surveillance by the
international community, " Fabius told France 2 television.
Fabius also said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was bound
to fall at some point and the Arab League offer of a safe exit
would not save him from punishment.
Arab foreign ministers on Sunday offered Assad a "safe exit"
if he stepped down - an offer followed by a fierce
counter-offensive by Syrian government forces, reflecting
Assad's determination to keep power against the 16-month-old
rebellion against his rule.
"The Arab League has made this offer but I think that, in
the long term, all dictators must pay for their crimes," Fabius
told France 2. "In the end, for him and other dictators, there
will be no impunity... Assad will fall, it is only a matter of
"The fall of Bashar al-Assad must not bring about a
persecution of minorities," Fabius added.
Several Western states expressed alarm at Syria's
acknowledgment that it had chemical and biological weapons and
would use them against any foreign intervention, though not
against Syrian rebels.
The Syrian announcement followed a week of unprecedented
fighting in the capital, Damascus, and a bomb attack that killed
four of Assad's closest advisers including his brother-in-law.
(Reporting By Nicholas Vinocur, editing by Tim Pearce)