Iran rejects claims Syria regime used chemical arms

AFP , Thursday 22 Aug 2013

Iran says chemical weapons in Syria were not used by Al-Assad's regime, but rather by 'terrorist groups'

Iran has rejected claims the Syrian regime, its chief regional ally, had deployed chemical weapons, saying if such an attack were proven rebels would be responsible, IRNA news agency said Thursday.

"If the information concerning the use of chemical weapons is accurate, very definitely they were used by terrorist groups... who have shown they will not hold back from committing any crime," Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was quoted as saying, referring to rebels locked in a deadly war with President Bashar al-Assad's forces.

"With United Nations (chemical weapons) inspectors now in Damascus and the Syrian government in the process of driving the terrorists back, why would it commit such an act," he asked.

Zarif said Tehran "vigorously condemns any use of chemical weapons," while accusing the rebels of having "every interest in aggravating and internationalising the crisis."

Syria's main opposition group, the National Coalition, accused the government of "massacring" more than 1,300 people in chemical weapons attacks on Wednesday.

The accusation, which was strongly denied by Damascus, came as a team of UN inspectors was in Syria to probe previous allegations of chemical weapons strikes levelled against both sides during the 29-month conflict.

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