By Holly Yan, CNN
July 23, 2012
(CNN) -- The Syrian Foreign Ministry said Monday that the country has chemical or biological weapons, but would never use them against its citizens -- only against foreign attackers.
"Any stocks of (weapons of mass destruction) or any unconventional weapon that the Syrian Arab Republic possesses would never be used against civilians or against the Syrian people during this crisis at any circumstance, no matter how the crisis would evolve," ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi told reporters.
"All the stocks of these weapons that the Syrian Arab Republic possesses are monitored and guarded by the Syrian army. These weapons are meant to be used only and strictly in the event of external aggression against the Syrian Arab Republic," he said Monday.
The remarks come after months of international chatter about whether foreign countries should intervene militarily to try to end more than a year of bloodshed in Syria.
Meanwhile, [url=http://edition.cnn.com/2012/07/22/world/meast/syria-unrest/index.html]the Arab League will offer Syrian President Bashar al-Assad "a safe exit"[/url] if he resigns quickly and leaves the country, a senior Arab League official said, marking the latest attempt to get Syria's longtime ruler to step down.
The official provided no further details because the source is not authorized to speak to the media.
Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani did not discuss an exit plan when speaking with reporters after the Sunday meeting, but confirmed "there is an agreement on the need for the swift resignation" of al-Assad.
"We call on the opposition and the Free Syrian Army to form a government of national unity," Sheikh Hamad said.
Despite the Arab League's proposal, the brutal violence has not let up. At least 30 people were killed Monday, the opposition Local Coordination Committees of Syria said.
The Arab League would not be the first to offer an outlet for al-Assad.
Tunisia -- the cradle of the Arab Spring uprisings and the first country last year to oust its longtime ruler -- offered asylum to the Syrian president in February in an attempt to spare further bloodshed.
And the daughter of Qatar's emir has suggested exile in Doha,according to a cache of e-mails leaked to CNN earlier this year.
If al-Assad were to leave, he would follow a series of longtime rulers in the region who have succumbed to popular revolts since last year, including former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, deposed Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi and former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who stepped down in a transfer-of-power deal.
Rime Allaf, an associate fellow at the Chatham House in London, said she thinks Syrians opposed to al-Assad are split on the notion of a "safe exit" for the president.
"Some may want a way to save as many lives as possible, so if he leaves without prosecution, then so be it, as they think the matter of most urgency now is saving the Syrian people," said Allaf, a Syrian national.
"Others say it is impossible to let him leave. Not only would it let him get away with thousands of murders and the destruction of the country, but it also would give him a green light to keep on doing what's he's doing, knowing that when he decides to leave, he can leave."
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