The Obama administration expressed strong doubts about claims from UN officials that the Syrian rebel fighters, not the Assad regime, used chemical weapons.
“We are highly skeptical of suggestions that the opposition could have or did use chemical weapons,” White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters. “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.”
“There are strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof of the use of sarin gas, from the way the victims were treated,” Del Ponte said in an interview.
“This was use on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities,” she added.
After Del Ponte’s statements grabbed headlines around the world, the UN commission released a formal statement clarifying that they have ”not reached conclusive findings as to the use of chemical weapons in Syria by any parties to the conflict.”
Some reported the statement as stepping back from Del Ponte’s suggestions, but it did not deny the preliminary evidence Del Ponte referred to and merely reiterated what Del Ponte had originally described as “not yet incontrovertible proof” one way or the other.