Turkish foreign minister claims Syria still possesses chemical weapons

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday that the Syrian government was still capable of carrying out chemical attacks.

“According to our data, Syrian regime still has the potential to use chemical weapons,” Cavusoglu said on the sidelines of the G7 foreign ministers’ meeting with counterparts from Arab countries in the Italian city of Lucca, as quoted by the CNN Turk broadcaster.

On Tuesday, G7 foreign minsters as well as top diplomats from Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates gathered in Lucca to discuss the ways to foster the end of the war in Syria.

The Turkish foreign minister added that the threat would remain as long as Syrian President Bashar Assad was in power.

On Thursday night, the United States carried out missile strikes on a Syrian military airfield in Homs province, as a response to a suspected chemical attack in the Syrian province of Idlib on 4 April that killed over 80 people, and for which the West put the blame on Damascus, while the Syrian government denied the allegations. Turkey was among the states, which welcomed the US strikes.

Under a Russian-US deal after the east Ghouta sarin gas incident in 2013, Damascus joined the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and agreed to destroy its stockpile under Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) oversight. In January 2016, the OPCW announced that all chemical weapons in Syria had been destroyed.