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'No information' Syria rebels used chemical arms

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The United States has no information that the Syrian rebels used chemical weapons as alleged by a UN rights investigator, a top State Department official said Monday.

"We have no information to suggest that they have either the capability or the intent to deploy or use such weapons," the senior official said, adding the US administration was trying to gather as many facts as possible.

Carla del Ponte, a former war crimes prosecutor, told Swiss public broadcaster RSI that "according to the testimonies we have gathered, the rebels have used chemical weapons, making use of sarin gas."

"We obviously take any reports of the use of chemical weapons in Syria very seriously and we're trying to get as many facts as possible to understand when and how such things were used," the US official said.

"But our understanding has been that the armed opposition does not have such weapons and so we'll have to re-check our facts," he told reporters on a conference call.

He also noted that "Ms Del Ponte does not work on the same expert team, which the United Nations has assembled to go into Syria as they are two different parts of the United Nations organization."

The official renewed Washington's calls for the UN expert team aiming to investigate the use of chemical weapons inside Syria to be granted full access to probe the claims.

jkb/dw

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130506/no-information-syria-rebels-used-chemical-arms