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Syrian officials deny use of chemical weapons

By Albert Aji

Associated Press

Published: Friday, April 26 2013 6:31 a.m. MDT

In this Friday, Dec. 14, 2012 file photo, a Syrian rebel checks an anti-aircraft weapon, in Maaret Misreen, near Idlib, Syria.

Muhammed Muheisen, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

DAMASCUS, Syria — Two Syrian officials have denied the government has used chemical weapons against rebel forces, saying the regime had no need for them.

The denials follow assertions by the White House and other top Obama administration officials that U.S. intelligence had concluded with "varying degrees of confidence" that the Syrian government has twice used chemical weapons in its civil war.

A Syrian government official said the government did not and will not use chemical weapons even if it had them. He spoke to The Associated Press Friday on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to give official statements.

Syrian official Sharif Shehadeh called the U.S. claims "lies" and likened them to false accusations that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction ahead of the U.S. invasion of that country.

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