It’s still unclear whether chemical weapons were used earlier this week in attacks in Syria’s Aleppo province, and if so who’s responsible—Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s troops or rebel forces. The U.N. is opening an investigation, as is the White House.
Syrian state media first reported on Tuesday that it was the anti-Assad rebels who launched an attack that, according to Syria’s information minister, killed 25 and injured 86. Russia, an Assad ally, backed the regime’s account, even as the rebels claimed it was the regime that was responsible for the attack. Israeli officials initially believed that the regime employed its unconventional arsenal—Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said Israel was “absolutely sure” of it—but now other Israeli officials seem to be walking back that assessment, uncertain that chemical weapons were used. Rep. Mike Rogers and Sen. Diane Feinstein said that, based on intelligence briefings, there was a “high probability” Assad used chemical weapons. However, the White House says it sees no proof yet. As Robert Ford, the American ambassador to Syria though no longer based in Damascus, explained: “So far, we have no evidence which substantiates the reports that chemical weapons were used. . . . But I want to underline that we are looking very carefully at these reports.”