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Hizbollah Denies Syria Chemical Weapons Claims
The leader of Syria's Lebanese ally Hizbollah has denied it has received chemical weapons from President Bashar al Assad's regime.
Hizbollah has backed Mr Assad politically and militarily in the conflict in neighbouring Syria, and it has sent fighters across the border to aid the government in their fight against the rebels.
Members of the Istanbul-based opposition Syrian National Coalition had accused the Assad government of transferring the weapons to the Shia Muslim group to escape inspection.
But Hizbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said: "This accusation is truly laughable.
"We understand the dimensions and background of these accusations, and these have dangerous consequences for Lebanon.
"We decisively and conclusively deny these accusations which have absolutely no basis in truth."
Syria has agreed to give up its chemical weapons under a plan agreed by the United States and Russia.
It came after Western powers accused the Assad government of carrying out a chemical attack that killed hundreds of people in a Damascus suburb last month.
Under the agreement brokered Sept. 14 in Geneva, inspectors are to be in Syria by November and all components of the chemical weapons program are to be removed from the country or destroyed by the middle of next year.
In an interview, President Assad pledged to keep up his side of the bargain but warned he could not ensure the rebels would not interfere with the inspections process.
"It should not be a problem in principle. But, as I said, if some countries give orders to those terrorists to stop experts' arrival and accuse the Syrian government for doing it, then the answer would be different," he told China's CCTV.
He added that the chemical weapons were "in safe areas where the Syrian army has complete control".
Meanwhile, hundreds of Lebanese soldiers and policemen moved into Hizbollah strongholds south of Beirut after officials reached a deal with the group.
Troops in armoured personnel carriers and other vehicles set up checkpoints and were searching cars and asking people for identity cards.
The agreement follows a backlash against Hizbollah's tightened security measures in the area known as Dahiyeh after a car bomb attack on August 15 that killed 27 people.
The military deployment is likely to be welcomed by Lebanese who feel that Hizbollah's strength has eroded the government's authority.