Assad regime behind use of chemical weapons: White House

Last Updated: Tuesday, May 7, 2013 - 14:40

Washington: Refuting suggestions that Syrian opposition had used chemical weapons during the last year mass uprising, the White House has said it was more likely that these weapons have been used by the Assad regime.

The White House Press Secretary Jay Carney yesterday said that the US is highly skeptical of suggestions that opposition could have used the chemical weapons.

"The fact of the matter is, as we have said and I have said many times, we are highly skeptical of suggestions that the opposition could have or did use chemical weapons. We find it highly likely that any chemical weapon use that has taken place in Syria was done by the Assad regime, and that remains our position," Carney told mediapersons at his daily news conference.

The US and its international partners are conducting their own investigation on the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

"It is essential that we continue to gather evidence that we work with our partners as well as the opposition in the accumulation of evidence about the use of chemical weapons," he said.

"We are continuing to work with our partners as well as the opposition in our efforts to provide assistance to the opposition," he said, adding that the US has stepped up significantly its assistance to the opposition.

"We call on the Assad regime to back its own call for such an investigation to allow that investigation to take place. But we are not waiting for United Nations` action alone.

"We are working through other means to try to build on the evidence that we already have of chemical weapons use, to assert in a concrete and firm way the chain of custody, when chemical weapons were used, by whom, and the full consequences of that use. But that does, of course, take some time," he said.

"The intelligence assessments we have are extremely valuable and significant, which is why we publicly released that information in a letter of response to some senators," he said.

But it is not sufficient to make the kind of determinations that the President will make if and when we can state clearly that a red line has been crossed, that chemical weapons have been used, that the Assad regime has deployed them against the Syrian people," he added.

It is, by definition, a game-changer when chemical weapons are used, he argued, adding that there are international conventions that prohibit the use of chemical weapons, and there are international norms that are violated when chemical weapons are used.

Meanwhile, a senior State Department official told reporters during a conference call that it is unlikely that the alleged chemical weapons would have been used by the opposition.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, May 7, 2013 - 14:35

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