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Russia: Syria is moving chemical weapons

Russia's foreign minister says the Syrian regime has moved its chemical weapons to just one or two areas. US intelligence has raised concerns the regime could be considering using them against Syria's rebels.

FILE - This June 8, 2004, file photo shows giant containment cylinders that will be used to move deadly chemical weapons from storage igloos to an incinerator inside the Umatilla Chemical Weapons Disposal Facility outside Hermiston, Ore. Nearly seventy years after the U.S. Government began storing chemical weapons at the site, workers started incinerating the final ton of mustard gas there Monday and Tuesday, destroying the last of the chemical weapons stockpile in the Northwest. (AP Photo/Jeff Barnard, file)

Symbolbild Chemische Waffen BESCHREIBUNG BEACHTEN

Speaking on Saturday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the Syrian government had moved its chemical weapons for fear of a rebel onslaught, but added that the regime was in control of its chemical arsenal.

Lavrov said the greatest threat would be for the weapons to fall into rebel hands.

"Currently the [Syrian] government is doing all it can to secure [chemical weapons], according to intelligence data we have and the West has," Lavrov said.

"The Syrian authorities have concentrated those arms deposits, previously scattered across the country, in one or two centers."

Intelligence from the United States says the Syrian regime may be readying its chemical weapons and was considering using them against the country's rebels.

He told reporters on Saturday that countries in the region had asked Russia to offer the Syrian President Bashar Assad safe passage.

The 21 month-long conflict in Syria has killed more than 40,000 people, according to activist groups.

jr/bk (Reuters, AP, dpa)