Backpedaling: UN commission downplays claim Syria rebels used sarin
The UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria has sought to distance itself from comments made by one of its members that there was evidence of the nerve gas sarin being used by rebels.
Carla Del Ponte said testimony from victims and doctors had given rise to "strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof".
But the commission stressed that it had not reached any "conclusive findings".
The US said it had no information to suggest rebel fighters had used sarin.
In recent weeks, Western powers have said their own investigations have found evidence that government forces have used chemical weapons.
In an interview with Swiss-Italian TV on Sunday, Ms Del Ponte, who serves on the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, said: "Our investigators have been in neighbouring countries interviewing victims, doctors and field hospitals.
"According to their report of last week, which I have seen, there are strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof of the use of sarin gas, from the way the victims were treated."
Sarin, a colourless, odourless gas which can cause respiratory arrest and death, is classed as a weapon of mass destruction and is banned under international law.
US officials in Washington also played down Ms Del Ponte’s comments.
"The fact of the matter is - as we have said, and I have said many times - that we are highly sceptical of suggestions that the opposition could have or did use chemical weapons," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters.
"We find it highly likely that any chemical weapon use that has taken place in Syria was done by the Assad regime. And that remains our position."
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