July 21, 2012 / 4:19 PM / 5 years ago

U.S. says closely monitoring Syria chemical weapons

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States is closely monitoring Syria's chemical weapons stockpile and is "actively consulting" Damascus's neighbors to stress concerns over the security of those weapons and Syria's responsibility to safeguard them, the White House said on Saturday.

"We believe Syria's chemical weapons stockpile remains under Syrian government control," White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said. "Given the escalation of violence in Syria and the regime's increasing attacks on their people, we remain very concerned about these weapons."

That was the White House response to a question about a Syrian military defector's claim that President Bashar al-Assad's forces were moving chemical weapons across the country for possible use against the opposition in a military retaliation for the killing of four top security officials.

"In addition to monitoring their stockpiles, we are actively consulting with Syria's neighbors - and our friends in the international community - to underscore our common concern about the security of these weapons, and the Syrian government's obligation to secure them," Vietor said.

Reporting By Matt Spetalnick

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