Syria official: US exploits chemical weapons issue

In this Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012 photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, a Syrian soldier aims his rifle at free Syrian Army fighters during clashes in the Damascus suburb of Daraya, Syria. Syrian warplanes and artillery pummeled areas in and around Damascus, Aleppo and several other cities, on Sunday according to reports received by human rights activists. Intense fighting persists as rebels try to push their way back into the capital, where President Bashar Assad has his power base. (AP Photo/SANA)

BEIRUT (AP) — A senior Damascus official is accusing the United States and Europe of using the issue of chemical weapons to justify a future military intervention against Syria.

Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad warned on Thursday that any such intervention would be "catastrophic."

Washington is concerned that an increasingly desperate regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad could turn to its stockpile of chemical weapons or lose control of them to militant groups.

Syria has been careful not to confirm it has chemical weapons while insisting it would never use such weapons against its own people.

Mekdad says Syria would never use chemical weapons — even if it had them — against its own people, calling it "suicide." He spoke in an interview with Lebanon's Al Manar TV.