U.S. unequivocally interested in figuring out Syrian chemical weapon claims
Josh Earnest, the White House principal deputy press secretary, made the statement on Friday during a daily press briefing. Earnest responded to questions about two French journalists injured in a bombing in Syria who may have been injured by sarin gas. When asked what the White House reaction was to the purported chemical attack, Earnest said the U.S. wants to document any evidence of chemical weapon use.
"We're working with our partners, we're working with the opposition on this effort, and this raises -- and the reason that we are working so hard on this is because the use of chemical weapons does raise some serious concerns," Earnest said. "And I think the President has talked about that quite extensively as well. So what I can tell you is we've seen those reports but, again, we're committed to conducting a pretty rigorous investigation here because this is a serious matter."
Earnest also responded to a question about the recent arrest of a group of suspected extremists with possible ties to the Jabhat al Nusra group fighting for the opposition in Syria. The extremists allegedly carried a cargo of sarin gas. When asked if the U.S. would want to suppress information that could indicate the opposition used chemical weapons, Earnest said the U.S. absolutely wants the facts.
"I can unequivocally confirm for you that we're interested in getting to the bottom of who may or may not -- who may be responsible for the use of chemical weapons," Earnest said. "We've already heard senior administration officials express some skepticism about claims that the opposition is responsible for that. But again, we're looking to get to the bottom of this and that's why we're engaged in an effort with our partners and with the U.N. to try to figure that out."