Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

DEBATE

If Scotland Says 'Aye': Polls Say Independence Referendum Too Close to Call (part 2)

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Scottish referendum in the media

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Homosexuality in Africa: Kenyan movie debuts at Toronto Film Festival

Read more

DEBATE

If Scotland Says 'Aye': Polls Say Indpendence Referendum Too Close to Call

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Ebola virus: US to send 3,000 troops to West Africa

Read more

THE BUSINESS INTERVIEW

Inger Andersen, Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa, The World Bank

Read more

FOCUS

Scottish referendum: Should I stay or should I go?

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Paris conference: A coalition against the Islamic State group

Read more

ENCORE!

Encore's Film Show: Spies, doppelgangers and gay rights activists

Read more

Middle east

No proof Syria rebels used chemical weapons, says UN

© AFP

Video by Siobhán SILKE

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-05-07

A UN commission investigating human rights abuses in Syria has distanced itself from comments made by one of its investigators indicating that Syrian rebel forces have used chemical weapons, saying on Monday that it had “no conclusive proof”.

A UN commission investigating human rights abuses in Syria said on Monday that it had “no conclusive proof” that opposition rebel forces in the country had used the deadly nerve agent sarin in the fight against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, playing down comments made by one of its members the day before.

UN human rights investigator Carla Del Ponte publically stated on Sunday that her commission had gathered compelling testimony from medical staff and victims in Syria indicating that rebel combatants had used sarin during fighting. A former Swiss attorney general, Del Ponte also served as prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

Speaking in an interview with Swiss Italian broadcaster RSI, Del Ponte said that, “According to the testimonies we have gathered, the rebels have used chemical weapons.”

Although she added that there was no “irrefutable proof” of the allegations, she did say that the commission harboured “very strong suspicions, concrete suspicions that sarin gas has been used.”

Following Del Ponte’s comments, her commission issued a statement on Monday mitigating the allegations.

“The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic wishes to clarify that it has not reached conclusive findings as to the use of chemical weapons in Syria by any parties to the conflict,” it said.

US ‘skeptical’ Syrian rebels used chemical weapons

Meanwhile, the White House expressed its doubts over Del Ponte’s revelations, saying it was “highly skeptical” that Syrian rebel forces had used sarin.

"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," White House spokesperson Jay Carney told reporters.

In recent months, both Assad’s government and rebel fighters have accused each other of using chemical weapons, an act of war prohibited under international law.

In late April, the US announced that it believed to “varying degrees of confidence” that sarin has been used by Syria’s government on its people.

Since then, US President Barack Obama, who previously said that the use of chemical weapons in Syria would represent crossing a “red line,” has come under increasing pressure to take action. The White House, however, has said that it will keep all options on the table, but said it will not set a timeline for a response.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-05-06

  • SYRIA

    Syrian rebels 'used sarin gas', says UN’s del Ponte

    Read more

  • USA - SYRIA

    Possible Syria chemical arms 'embarrassing' for US

    Read more

  • SYRIA

    Chemical weapons in Syria a ‘game changer,’ says Obama

    Read more

COMMENT(S)