WASHINGTON — The Obama administration flatly rejected a claim by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government that the U.S.-backed Syrian rebels used chemical weapons on Tuesday, calling it a desperate attempt by a beleaguered regime to distract attention from its own ledger of atrocities in two years of civil war.
A U.S. official went further and said there was no evidence either side had used such weapons Tuesday in an attack in northern Syria, disputing a competing claim by rebels that it was regime forces who fired the chemical weapon. Spokespeople for the White House and the State Department rejected only the Assad regime’s charge.
The origin of the attack is still unclear, the official added. But the official noted that the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons also is reporting no independent information of chemical weapons use. The official wasn’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter and spoke on condition of anonymity.
“We have no reason to believe that these allegations represent anything more than the regime’s continued attempts to discredit the legitimate opposition and distract from its own atrocities committed against the Syrian people,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters.
“We don’t have any evidence to substantiate the regime’s charge that the opposition even has CW (chemical weapons) capability,” she added.
Syria’s state-run news agency said 25 people were killed in the attack on the Khan al-Assad village in northern Aleppo province. It said 86 people were wounded, some in critical condition, and published pictures of children and others on stretchers in what appeared to be a hospital ward.
Russia, which has steadfastly supported Assad in Syria’s civil war, backed Assad’s assertion Tuesday.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said the rebel use of chemical weapons represented an “extremely dangerous” development in a conflict that has already killed 70,000 people. It said the rebels detonated a munition containing an unidentified chemical agent, but didn’t give further details.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said the U.S. is looking carefully at all allegations, but said the Obama administration is “deeply skeptical” of any claims emanating from Assad’s regime. He said President Barack Obama believes any chemical weapons use would be unacceptable.
“This is an issue that has been made very clear by the president to be of great to concern to us,” Carney said, adding that if the Syrian regime does use such weapons, “there will be consequences.”MORE IN Wire NewsWASHINGTON — Earlier this year, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign lost count of its experts. Full StoryATHENS, Greece — Despite triumphing in a popular vote against austerity, Greece on Monday faced... Full Story
- Most Popular
- Most Emailed
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day 1739, 'Richard Palmer' identified in prison at York Castle as the notorious outlaw DICK TURPIN; IN 1836, Battle of the Alamo begins near San Antonio de Bexar, Texas; 1896, the Tootsie Roll invented by LEO HIRSCHFELD.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 1472, Orkney, Shetland islands put up as collateral by Norway to Scotland in lieu of dowry for MARGARET OF DENMARK on her marriage with JAMES III, king of Scotland; 1962, JOHN GLENN first American to orbit Earth.
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: City mayoral candidates debate campaign issues; Hartford, Conn., woman still missing; Neal Goswami reports attempts to legislate suicide; local woman loses 100 pounds through TOPS program.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 1878, JOHN TUNSTALL murdered near Lincoln, New Mexico, by the outlaw JESSE EVANS; in 1930, ELM FARM OLLIE first cow to fly in aircraft, first to be milked airborne; 1955, nuke test WASP; '79, snow in Sahara.
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: Rutland Herald News Editor Alan J. Keays and staff writer Gordon Dritschilo discuss stories planned for the February 18, 2015, edition of the newspaper: Winter budgets maxed, legal marijuana, Springfield bank job, USPS slowdown
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 1249 AD, ANDRE of LONGJUMEAU is dispatched by LOUIS IX of France to meet the KHAGAN, ruler of the Mongol Empire; in 1804, during 1st Barbary War, STEPHEN DECATUR scuttles the pirate-held USS Philadelphia in Tripoli.