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.

 

OPEC agrees deal to cut oil output

US Congress overrides Obama's veto of Saudi 9/11 bill

UN warns 'hundreds' in Aleppo need medical evacuation

Amnesty accuses Sudan of using chemical arms against Darfur civilians

Palestinian president to attend Peres funeral

UN warns 700,000 will need aid once Mosul offensive starts

Saudi seeks oil leadership in economic pinch

Egypt court suspends block on island transfer to Saudi

Bid for international Yemen war probe fails at UN

King Abdullah visits home of murdered writer

Bahrain says 9/11 bill will harm US

9/11 bill puts US, Saudi cooperation in question

UN envoy says Syria talks 'very difficult with bombs falling'

Erdogan says Moody's was 'bought' after downgrade

Erdogan: Turkey may need state of emergency for more than a year

Iraqi activist wins Norway rights prize

Kidnapped German woman, baby freed in Syria

Turkey stops Kurdish TV broadcasts

A year of bombing in Syria triggers limited interest in Russia

Obama defends refusal to use military force to end Syria civil war

Palestinians react to death of Peres

Poverty takes toll in rebel-held Yemen fishing village

Kerry threatens to end negotiations with Russia on Syria

Kuwaiti court scraps petrol price hike

Iraq requests more US troops to take on IS in Mosul

Airstrikes hit hospitals in rebel-held Aleppo

Iran nuclear chief says not worried about Trump

Iranian, Italian ships hold manoeuvres in Strait of Hormuz

Gunmen kill three Egypt policemen, civilian in Sinai

Turkey says 32,000 coup suspects awaiting trial

Paris to host international meeting on Libya

Etihad plane in emergency landing in Abu Dhabi

Struggling Saudi Oger lays off 1,300 staff

Israel ex-PM to serve 27 months for graft

Syrian kids return to school in Manbij

World Bank releases $300 million for Syrian refugees in Jordan

UN Libya envoy warns against ‘political impasse’

Iranian FM in Ankara for Syria talks

Syrian army retakes rebel-held Aleppo district

Israeli ex-president Peres dies

Oil prices post marginal gains

Russia tries to strongarm US with Aleppo assault

Saudi petition seeks 'full' rights for women

Jordan vows crackdown on online incitement

Assad, Russia press intense Aleppo assault