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Middle east

Obama ‘sceptical’ of Syria's rebel chemical attack claims

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-03-21

US President Barack Obama in a press conference in Israel on Wednesday said that he was “deeply sceptical” of the Syrian government’s claims that rebel forces had recently used chemical weapons in a deadly attack near the northern city of Aleppo.

US President Barack Obama said on Wednesday that the US is “deeply skeptical” of claims by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government that rebel forces used chemical weapons in a deadly attack near the northern city of Aleppo the day before.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, Obama said that the US was investigating whether chemical weapons had in fact been used in the attack on Tuesday, which claimed the lives of 26 people.

"Use of chemical weapons is a game changer," Obama says

“Once we establish the facts, I have made clear that the use of chemical weapons is a game changer,” Obama said, echoing previous comments that such a move would amount to crossing a “red line” for the United States.

Both the Assad regime and Syrian rebels have traded accusations that the other used chemical weapons in the attack, and have called for an international investigation. However, Obama voiced his doubt over claims that rebel forces were behind the incident.

“I am deeply skeptical of any claim that it was in fact the opposition who used the chemical weapons,” Obama said. “Everybody who knows the facts of the chemical weapons stockpiles inside of Syria as well as the Syrian government’s capabilities, I think, would question those claims.”

The US president added that Assad’s government would be held accountable if they were found to be responsible for the attack.

“We have been clear that the use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people would be a serious and tragic mistake,” Obama said. “The Assad regime must understand that they will be held accountable for the use of chemical weapons or their transfer to terrorists.”

If confirmed, it would be the first time chemical weapons have been used in Syria’s two-year old conflict, which has killed an estimated 70,000 people.
 

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-03-20

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