WASHINGTON, March 19 (Xinhua) -- The White House said on Tuesday that "no evidence" shows that the Syrian rebels have used chemical weapons in their battle against the government troops.
White House spokesman Jay Carney was responding to Syria's state media reports alleging that armed men fired a rocket stuffed with chemical materials on Tuesday in northern Aleppo province, killing at least 15 people. Syrian Information Minister Omran al- Zoubi slammed the act as a "dangerous escalation."
The Russian Foreign Ministry has issued a statement expressing "very serious concern" about weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of the rebels.
"We have no evidence to substantiate the charge that the opposition has used chemical weapons," Carney said at a regular press briefing.
"We're deeply skeptical of a regime that has lost all credibility, and we would also warn the regime against making these kinds of charges as any kind of pretext or cover for its use of chemical weapons," he added. "We're evaluating the charges that are being made."
He again expressed "serious concern" about possible use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government in its conflict with the opposition, which has entered its third year with more than 70,000 people already killed.
"It is important that as fighting in Syria intensified and the regime becomes more desperate, that the United States and the international community make absolutely clear to al-Assad that the use of chemical weapons would be totally unacceptable," Carney said.
He warned anew of "consequences" should the government headed by President Bashar al-Assad uses the weapons or fails to secure them, and reiterated Washington's position that "We're not supplying lethal assistance to the opposition."