Syria maintains an ability to deploy chemical weapons, diplomats say, citing intelligence from Britain, France and the United States that could strengthen allegations Syria's military recently used chlorine gas in its bloody civil war.
The comments reflect a growing conviction among Western capitals that President Bashar Assad has failed to come clean about Syria's chemical weapons program despite his promises to end it, and they insist the United States and its allies will resist calls by Assad to shut down a special international chemical disarmament mission set up to deal with Syria.
Syria denies it maintains the capacity to deploy chemical weapons, calling the allegation a US and European attempt to use their "childish" policies to blackmail Assad's government.
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