First Published: 2013-01-16

 

US clears Assad of chemical weapons accusations

 

National Security Council spokesman dismisses report saying there is no evidence that Syria has taken new steps towards using chemical weapons.

 

Middle East Online

Will US withdraw its support for ‘Arab Spring’?

WASHINGTON - The US government on Tuesday brushed aside a report of a leaked State Department cable indicating that Syria had used chemical weapons in its brutal crackdown on a nearly two-year-old rebellion.

Foreign Policy, an online magazine, said it had acquired a leaked State Department report by US diplomats in Turkey that made a "compelling case" that President Bashar al-Assad's forces had used poison gas.

The report was said to have been based on interviews with activists, doctors and defectors and to represent one of the most comprehensive US efforts to date to investigate claims by the Syrian opposition.

But National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor appeared to dismiss the report late Tuesday, saying there was no evidence that Syria had taken new steps towards using chemical weapons.

"The reporting we have seen from media sources regarding alleged chemical weapons incidents in Syria has not been consistent with what we believe to be true about the Syrian chemical weapons program," he said.

"The president was very clear when he said that if the Assad regime makes the tragic mistake of using chemical weapons, or fails to meet its obligation to secure them, the regime will be held accountable."

US President Barack Obama has said the use of chemical weapons or the failure to control chemical arsenals is a "red line" that could lead the United States to intervene more forcefully in the conflict.

US officials last month said that Syria appeared to have taken steps towards mixing and deploying chemical weapons, but after a flurry of media reports and stern warnings from Washington the regime apparently backed off.

According to UN figures, more than 60,000 people have been killed in the violence in Syria since the outbreak of Arab Spring-inspired protests against the Assad family's four-decade-long rule in March 2011.

The demonstrations began peacefully, but escalated into an armed rebellion after Syrian troops fired on protesters.

 

Deadly Sinai attacks force Sisi to cut short overseas trip

New Saudi king announces sweeping cabinet shake-up

Iraq government vows to investigate Diyala massacre

Libya rivals to join peace talks if held on home soil

British mosques open doors to reach out to citizens

Israel to go ahead with 430 new West Bank settler homes

Israel reduces energy supplies to Palestinians

Syria opposition embassy in Qatar renews passports

Hezbollah sends message to Israel ‘conflict is over’

Women protest against Egypt police after fatal shooting

Libyan airline suspends flights

MSF withdraws help from two Sudan states

Jordan wants to see proof pilot alive before exchange

US says thousands of Somali children facing starvation

Kuwait online activists arrested 'over Saudi criticism'

Iran, Europe officials to meet Thursday in Istanbul

IS issues new deadline to kill Jordanian pilot if demand not met

Netanyahu warns Hezbollah will pay 'full price'

African Union sees no military solution to Libya crisis

Yemen powerful militia prevents fresh protest in Sanaa

Iran appoints new UN ambassador after US visa refusal

Pentagon confirms US involvement in talks with Yemen Huthis

Hezbollah missiles threaten to spark new war in volatile region

In new website, France warns would-be jihadists: You will die alone

Israel retaliates against Hezbollah attack

Can Iraqis trust their government to rebuild their country?

Sheikh Ali Salman rejects charges as trial opens in Bahrain

Protesters try to storm UN headquarters in Gaza

UN peacekeeper killed in southern Lebanon amid border clash

Kobane in ruins after symbolic blow to jihadists

Jordan bows to IS demand

Hezbollah claims attack on Israeli military convoy

Somali PM proposes new cabinet list

Syria opposition groups, Assad representatives meet in Moscow

Yemen’s Huthis free top presidential aide

French FM urges international cooperation against extremism

Clock ticking towards 24-hour IS deadline to kill hostages

Obama, Saudi king discuss IS fight, Iran

Nine killed in luxury Tripoli hotel attack

Three killed in Tripoli luxury hotel attack

UN harshly criticises Turkey for deterioration of human rights

‘Islamic State’ gives Jordan 24 hours before execution of hostages

Ex-Shebab chief urges others to surrender in first public appearance

Bomb kills and wounds three terrorists in Egypt's Alexandria

Three killed in protest against MINUSMA in Mali