West has ‘evidence’ of chemical weapons used in Syria, diplomats say

Animal carcasses lie on the ground, killed by what residents said was a chemical weapon attack near Aleppo, March 23, 2013

From AFP:  Western diplomats say they have "hard evidence" chemical weapons have been used at least once in the Syrian civil war, but the Assad regime is refusing to let international experts into the country to investigate the claim.

Western nations have "hard evidence" that chemical weapons have been used at least once in the Syrian war but a UN investigation is now unlikely to get into the country, diplomats said Thursday.

President Bashar al-Assad’s government asked the UN to investigate its claims against rebel forces. But it is now refusing to let international experts into the country because the UN wants to look into claims against Assad’s forces.

"In one case we have hard evidence," a western diplomat told reporters, commenting on the rival claims.

"There are several examples where we are quite sure that shells with chemicals have been used in a very sporadic way," added the diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity and without giving details of the evidence.

A diplomat from a UN Security Council nation also said that "quite convincing" evidence had been sent to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to back accusations against Assad’s forces.

Britain and France have submitted information to the United Nations about allegations that government forces used chemical arms in the city of Homs on December 23 and at Ataybah near Damascus last month. Neither has disclosed details but the Homs case is said to be the most serious of the two.

From Voice of America:  A British newspaper reports that British military scientists have found forensic evidence that chemical weapons were used in the conflict in Syria.

The Times of London newspaper quoted unnamed defense sources Saturday as saying a soil sample smuggled out of Syria proved a chemical weapon was used.  The sources could not tell if the weapon was fired by Syrian government forces or rebels.

One source disagreed with reports that have said the weapons are a riot-control agent.  The source said the weapons are something else but that it is not definite they are a sarin nerve agent.

Syria’s government and rebels have traded accusations about the use of chemical weapons.  (photo: Reuters)

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