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Victims: Syrian rebels used chemical weapons

DAMASCUS — Testimony from victims of the Syrian conflict suggests rebels have used the nerve agent sarin, according to a leading United Nations investigator.

Carla del Ponte told Swiss TV there were “strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof”.

However, she said her panel had not yet seen evidence of government forces using chemical weapons.

Syria has recently come under growing Western pressure over the alleged use of such weapons.

“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.”

del Ponte, a former Swiss attorney-general and prosecutor with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, did not rule out the possibility that government troops might also have used chemical weapons, but said further investigation was needed.

“I was a little bit stupefied by the first indications we got…; they were about the use of nerve gas by the opposition,” she said.

del Ponte gave no details of when or where sarin may have been used.

Her commission was established in August 2011 to examine alleged violations of human rights in the Syrian conflict since March 2011.

It is due to issue its latest report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in June. (BBC)

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