GENEVA May 6 U.N. war crimes investigators have
reached no conclusions on whether any side in the Syrian war has
used chemical weapons, the inquiry commission said on Monday,
playing down a suggestion from one of the team that rebel forces
had done so.
Investigator Carla Del Ponte caught U.N. officials by
surprise on Sunday when she said the commission had gathered
testimony from casualties and medical staff indicating that
rebel forces had used the banned nerve agent sarin.
"The independent international Commission of Inquiry on the
Syrian Arab Republic wishes to clarify that it has not reached
conclusive findings as to the use of chemical weapons in Syria
by any parties to the conflict," it said in a statement.
President Bashar al-Assad's government and the rebels accuse
each another of carrying out three chemical weapon attacks, one
near Aleppo and another near Damascus, both in March, and
another in Homs in December.
Del Ponte, a former Swiss attorney general who also served
as prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the
former Yugoslavia, gave no details as to when or where sarin may
have been used. She was speaking in an interview with
In comments posted in English on Monday, she repeated the
assertion, saying that witness testimony made it appear that
some chemical wepaons had been used.
"What appears to our investigation is that it was used by
the opponents, by the rebels," she said. "We have no indication
at all that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons."
The Geneva-based inquiry into war crimes and other human
rights violations led by Brazilian expert Paulo Pinheiro is
separate from an investigation of the alleged use of chemical
weapons instigated by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Ban's office is still trying to negotiate entry into Syria
to investigate and collect samples.
(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Angus MacSwan)