(GUARDIAN) — The Syrian regime acknowledged for the first time Monday that it possessed stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons and said it will only use them in case of a foreign attack and never internally against its own citizens .

Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi said the stockpiles are secure, in an apparent response to widespread international concerns that they could fall into the hands of the disparate bands of rebel forces fighting the government.

“No chemical or biological weapons will ever be used, and I repeat, will never be used, during the crisis in Syria no matter what the developments inside Syria,” he said in conference broadcast on state TV. “All of these types of weapons are in storage and under security and the direct supervision of the Syrian armed forces and will never be used unless Syria is exposed to external aggression.”

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