U.S. President Barack Obama has warned the Syrian authorities that they would be held accountable if they decide to use their arsenal of chemical weapons.
Syrian Foreign Ministry said on Monday that Syria may use chemical weapons against external aggression as the West is pushing for a possible military intervention in the country torn by violent clashes between troops loyal to President Bashar Al-Assad and opposition forces.
"Given the regime's stockpiles of chemical weapons, we will continue to make it clear to Assad and those around him that the world is watching and that they will be held accountable by the international community and the United States should they make the tragic mistake of using those weapons," Obama said on Monday addressing veterans in Reno, Nevada.
The Syrian stockpiles of chemical weapons are believed to consist mostly of large amounts of Sarin in addition to tabun (nerve agents), with mustard gas, and the country is reportedly producing and preparing VX for weapons.
Exact volumes of chemical weapons in the Syrian stockpile are difficult to estimate.
Meanwhile, the European Union approved a new set of sanctions against Syria on Monday, including a tougher arms embargo, in response to the escalating violence in the country.
The new sanctions came as Syrian government troops have continued their large-scale offensive to force rebels out of Damascus and the northern city of Aleppo. Dozens of people were reported killed and thousands have fled their homes in Syria over the past few days.
Up to 17,000 people have been killed in clashes between Assad troops and opposition fighters since the beginning of the Syrian conflict 17 months ago, according to UN estimates based on accounts provided by Syrian activists.
The UN Refugee Agency said last week that the number of Syrian refugees it has registered or assisted in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey has almost tripled since April to 112,000. The actual number of Syrian refugees is thought to be significantly higher.