International community should push Assad regime for access to chemical weapon sites

Nations wanting to get to the bottom of the chemical weapons investigation in Syria should support the U.S. and U.N. position that investigators should be allowed access, the U.S. State Department said on Friday.

Patrick Ventrell, the director of the State Department's press office, made the remarks on Friday during a daily press briefing. Ventrell responded to a recent report that Russia was not convinced that U.S. findings on chemical weapon use in Syria were correct. He said the U.S. has high confidence in its assessment that Bashar al-Assad's regime used chemical weapons against the opposition.

"We've shared that information with the Russians, with the U.N.," Ventrell said. "You know that our intelligence community has a high confidence in our assessment, given multiple independent streams of information. I mean, from this podium I'm not going to get into intelligence, but we have a high confidence in that assessment."

Ventrell said that any country that wants to determine the absolute truth about chemical weapon use in Syria should push Assad to let investigators examine purported sites of chemical weapon use.

"Clearly the best way in terms of the U.N. investigation would be allowing them to get in and get unfettered access," Ventrell said. "And so the Assad regime continues to obstruct that, but any country that wants to get to the bottom of this should continue to make the position and should continue to support our position and the U.N.'s position that they need to get in and investigate all that evidence."

Ventrell said that if the Assad regime has nothing to hide, it should allow chemical weapons investigators to make an assessment.