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UN Investigator Say Syrian Rebels Used Sarin Gas

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U.N.'s Carla Del Ponte says Syrian rebels may have used sarin gas.

Carla del Ponte told a Swiss TV station over the weekend that it was possible that Syrian rebels had used the nerve agent sarin. (Fabrice Coffrini / AFP / Getty Images / October 25, 2012)

By Patrick J. McDonnell

May 6, 2013, 11:33 a.m.

BEIRUT — A leading member of a United Nations investigatory commission says there are “strong concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof” that Syrian rebels have used the nerve agent sarin.

Carla del Ponte, a former prosecutor for U.N. tribunals investigating war crimes in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, made the comment in an interview Sunday with a Swiss television channel, the BBC reported.

The U.N. panel, known as the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, emphasized in a statement Monday that it had reached no conclusions about the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria's civil war.

“I was a little bit stupefied by the first indications we got ... about the use of nerve gas by the opposition,” Del Ponte told Swiss Italian broadcaster RSI.

She said the evidence emerged from interviews conducted by investigators with victims, physicians and others in neighboring countries.

Del Ponte did not rule out the possibility that President Bashar Assad's government may also have used chemical agents on the battlefield.

Nonetheless, the comments were a blow to opposition activists who have alleged that the government has deployed chemical weapons on various occasions against rebel forces in Syria.

The Obama administration has said that U.S. intelligence agencies concluded with varying degrees of certainty that sarin was used in Syria, but investigators have yet to determine whether it was released intentionally and by whom. Britain, France and Israel have made similar accusations in recent weeks.

President Obama has said that the confirmed use of chemical weapons by Syria would be a “red line” that could trigger an unspecified U.S. response.

On Monday, in an apparent reaction to Del Ponte's comments, the U.N. commission said it "has not reached conclusive findings as to the use of chemical weapons in Syria by any parties to the conflict.”

The panel, which is investigating allegations of violations of international law in Syria, declined further comment.

The statement, issued in Geneva, suggested that the commission may have been blindsided by Del Ponte’s comments, which were widely reported in the media and online, including on the website of the official Syrian news service, the Syrian Arab News Agency.

The Syrian government has accused the rebels of using poison gas on at least two occasions. Authorities alleged that their opponents wanted to make it appear that the military was deploying chemical weapons to spur an international intervention. The Syrian opposition has denied any use of chemical agents.

The United Nations has vowed an extensive investigation into the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria and has assembled an expert team. But that inquiry has been delayed by a dispute with Syrian authorities about access for investigators to sites inside Syria.

The Syrian government does not publicly acknowledge that it possesses chemical weapons, although international experts say it has a large arsenal, including sarin.

Syrian authorities have vowed never to use such weapons against a domestic enemy, even if they were in Syria's possession. At the same time, however, they have consistently depicted the rebellion against Assad as a foreign-based "conspiracy" hatched by Syria's enemies abroad, and not as an internal revolt

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Weapons of Mass Destruction, Part 2?

The US would like any excuse to go to war. How do we know if the sarin gas was not planted by the CIA or the Mossad?

Sometimes things are not what they seem.

BTW, the US has just said they still believe the Assad government used sarin gas. Well, what else can they say?

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And Israel gets involved.

For some reason, Americans have sort of love affair with Israel. They don't realize what this country has been doing in the West Bank and to Non- Jewish people in Gaza... I blame the media.

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Weapons of Mass Destruction, Part 2?

The US would like any excuse to go to war. How do we know if the sarin gas was not planted by the CIA or the Mossad?

Sometimes things are not what they seem.

BTW, the US has just said they still believe the Assad government used sarin gas. Well, what else can they say?

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And Israel gets involved.

For some reason, Americans have sort of love affair with Israel. They don't realize what this country has been doing in the West Bank and to Non- Jewish people in Gaza... I blame the media.

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let them kill each other

where was the world when iraq and iran used chemical weapons on eachother? they just supplied weapons to the side they liked

no need to intervene, esp some of the rebels are religious fundamentalist

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let them kill each other

where was the world when iraq and iran used chemical weapons on eachother? they just supplied weapons to the side they liked

no need to intervene, esp some of the rebels are religious fundamentalist

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lol

If the FSA manages to capture Assad's men put them in airtight containers, and then fill those airtight containers with Pottassium Chloride...people are sure going to be in trouble.

The discussion here is about Sarin gas, which does not come in a chemistry kit.

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Nobody is exactly claiming a massive attack that killed millions...

it was a claim of chemical weapons and the UN sais its probably the rebels using it, and they even used sarin as well.

Israeli intelligence first came out with the claims...

just out of curiosity, what are the pay scales in the hasbarat industry?

is it like a full time career thing? Part time extra income?

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