WASHINGTON Jan 15 The United States on Tuesday
poured cold water on a media report that chemical weapons had
been used in the Syrian conflict, but reiterated that if Syrian
President Bashar al Assad's government did resort to these
weapons, it would be held to account.
"The reporting we have seen from media sources regarding
alleged chemical weapons incidents in Syria has not been
consistent with what we believe to be true about the Syrian
chemical weapons program," White House National Security Council
spokesman Tommy Vietor said in a statement.
He was responding to a report in Foreign Policy magazine
that a secret U.S. State Department cable had concluded the
Syrian military likely used poison gas against its own people in
a deadly attack last month.
"If the Assad regime makes the tragic mistake of using
chemical weapons, or fails to meet its obligation to secure
them, the regime will be held accountable," Vietor said.
The Foreign Policy report said U.S. diplomats in Turkey had
investigated claims that Assad forces used chemical weapons, and
had made a compelling case that poison gas had indeed been used.
The results of that probe were outlined in a cable that was
signed by the U.S. consul general in Istanbul and sent to the
State Department in Washington last week, the magazine said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said last month that
Assad's government had concentrated its chemical arsenal in two
depots in an effort to make them more secure. Lavrov also played
down the chances that they would used against rebel fighters.
According to the United Nations, more than 60,000 people
have died in the 22-month long conflict between Assad forces and
the opposition battling to end decades of his family's rule.