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.

 

UAE warns Qatar to take neighbours' demands 'seriously'

Russia warships, submarine strike IS targets in Syria

France sets out tough new anti-terror law

Morocco dismantles 'IS-linked cell plotting tourist attacks'

Prime time for Ramadan on Gulf fashion calendar

Asian states downplay 'Russia proposal' to send troops to Syria

Iran’s Salehi urges West to save historic nuclear deal

Iran, allies mark Jerusalem Day with rallies

US-led Syria strikes kill 472 civilians in one month

Nine killed in Iraq suicide bomb attack

Trump-Saudi ties help pave way for new Saudi crown prince

Makeshift clinic saves lives near Syria’s Raqa

Egyptian fuel helps restart Gaza power station

Rights groups say Morocco protest leader 'severely beaten' during arrest

5 killed in Mogadishu car bomb attack

UN experts urge Egypt to halt executions after 'flawed trials'

Qatar emir congratulates newly-appointed Saudi crown prince

Kushner hails 'productive' Palestine-Israel talks

Macron says removing Assad no longer priority in Syria

Turkey sends first aid ship to isolated ally Qatar

Iraq PM says IS admitting defeat in Mosul

Egypt delivers fuel to ease Gaza electricity shortage

Saudi Arabia named after ruling dynasty

Turkey detains catering boss after army food poisoning

Israel says will unleash 'unimaginable power' in future Lebanon war

Brussels nail bomber identified as Moroccan

Saudi stock market bullish on new heir

Lebanon's Salame to be new UN Libya envoy

New Saudi heir is king's agent of change

Turkish President accused of influencing courts

Mohammed bin Salman named Saudi crown prince

Algeria leader drops Panama Papers libel suit vs Le Monde

Morocco detains three as Rif protests continue

Israel starts work on new settlements amid Trump 'peace' push

At least 10 dead in Mogadishu suicide attack

Iraq forces advance in Mosul Old City

Yemen cholera death toll passes 1,100

Iran-made drone shot down by US plane in Syria

Raqa’s own battle to liberate hometown from IS rule

Saudi, Iraq hail 'qualitative leap' in relations

French journalist killed in Mosul

Iran protests against Tillerson 'transition' comments

Saudi foils ‘terrorist act’ in territorial waters

Ex-Barclays CEO charged with fraud over Qatar funding

London mosque terror attack suspect named in media