London - The Syrian regime plans to deploy chemical weapons against its own people "as a last resort", the former head of Syria's chemical arsenal told The Times newspaper in an interview published on Wednesday.
Major-General Adnan Sillu said he defected from the Syrian army three months ago after being party to top-levels talks about the use of chemical weapons on both rebel fighters and civilians.
"We were in a serious discussion about the use of chemical weapons, including how we would use them and in what areas," he told the newspaper, referring to a meeting held at Syria's chemical weapons centre south of Damascus.
"We discussed this as a last resort - such as if the regime lost control of an important area such as Aleppo."
Speaking from Turkey, General Sillu told The Times that he was certain President Bashar Assad's regime would eventually use chemical weapons against civilians, adding that the discussion had been "the last straw" which triggered his defection.
His comments come after German press reported on Tuesday that the Syrian army had tested a chemical weapons delivery system.
'For use against Israel'
In his first interview since his defection, General Sillu said the Syrian regime had also considered supplying chemical weapons to the Lebanon-based militant group Hezbollah.
"They wanted to place warheads with the chemical weapons on missiles - to transfer them this way to Hezbollah. It was for use against Israel, of course," he told The Times.
He suggested that the regime now had "nothing to lose" in sharing the weapons and added: "If a war starts between Hezbollah and Israel it will be only good for Syria."
Members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard also attended numerous meetings to discuss the use of chemical weapons, he said.
"They were always coming to visit and to advise. They were always sending us scientists and bringing our scientists to them. They were also involved on the political side of how to use the chemical weapons."
The German magazine Der Spiegel, citing "witnesses, reported [on] Monday that the Syrian army has tested a chemical weapons delivery system, firing shells at a research centre in its northwestern desert region.
"Five or six empty shells devised for delivering chemical agents were fired by tanks and aircraft, at a site called Diraiham in the desert near the village of Khanasir," east of the city of Aleppo, Der Spiegel reported.
The Safira research centre in question is regarded as Syria's largest testing site for chemical weapons.