Syrian rebels used sarin, UN rights investigator

I ribelli siriani hanno utilizzato il micidiale agente nervino sarin nella loro lotta contro il regime del presidente Bashar al-Assad, secondo la testimonianza di vittime, ha detto l'investigatore delle Nazioni Unite per i diritti umani Carla del Ponte.

"Secondo le testimonianze che abbiamo raccolto, i ribelli hanno usato armi chimiche, facendo uso di gas sarin," del Ponte, ex procuratore di crimini di guerra, lo ha detto in un'intervista con una radio svizzera nella tarda giornata di ieri.

La Del Ponte ha aggiunto:  "ancora non c'è una prova inconfutabile, (ma) abbiamo sospetti molto forti, sospetti concreti che è stato usato il gas sarin. le cure che sono state portate alle vittime, hanno dimostrato questo.

"Dobbiamo ancora approfondire le nostre indagini, verificare e confermare (i risultati) attraverso nuove testimonianze testimoni, ma in base a ciò che abbiamo stabilito finora, possiamo dire che gli oppositori del regime, stanno usando gas sarin,"

Syrian rebels 'used sarin'
Del Ponte ha anche detto che la Commissione potrebbe ancora trovare la prova che ANCHE il regime siriano ha usato questo  tipo di arma chimica.

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.

Ms del Ponte, who serves on the UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, said in an interview with Swiss-Italian TV: "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."

Ms 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.

She 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.

Mutual accusations
A separate United Nations team was established to look specifically into the issue of chemical weapons.

It is ready to go to Syria but wants unconditional access with the right to inquire into all credible allegations.

Both the Syrian government and the rebels have in the past accused each other using chemical weapons.

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What is Sarin?
One of a group of nerve gas agents invented by German scientists as part of Hitler's preparations for World War II
Huge secret stockpiles built up by superpowers during Cold War
20 times more deadly than cyanide: A drop the size of a pin-head can kill a person
Called "the poor man's atomic bomb" due to large number of people that can be killed by a small amount
Kills by crippling the nervous system through blocking the action of an enzyme that removes acetylcholine - a chemical that transmits signals down the nervous system
Can only be manufactured in a laboratory, but does not require very sophisticated equipment
Very dangerous to manufacture. Contains four main ingredients, including phosphorus trichloride
Syria's chemical weapons stockpile
The United States and the UK have said there is emerging evidence of Syrian government forces having used sarin, with the US saying it had "varying degrees of confidence" that chemical weapons had been deployed.

US President Barack Obama called in April for a "vigorous investigation", saying the use of such weapons would be a "game changer" if verified.

President Bashar al-Assad's government says the claims do not have any credibility, denouncing them as "lies".

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.

Israeli raids
Ms del Ponte's allegations concerning the use of sarin by rebels came after Israel carried out a series of air attacks on Syrian military targets early on Sunday.

Israeli officials said its military struck consignments of advanced Iranian missiles for delivery to the Hezbollah movement in Lebanon.

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