U.S. reiterates that U.N. investigators need full access in Syria

The U.N. should have unfettered, full access to Syria to determine with absolute certainty all the facts in the ongoing chemical weapons investigation, the U.S. State Department said on Thursday.

Marie Harf, the deputy spokesperson of the State Department, made the remarks on Thursday during a daily press conference. Harf responded to questions about the U.N. chemical weapon team which recently arrived in Syria. She said the U.S. is in support of the U.N. team's efforts and stands by its assessment that Bashar al-Assad's regime used chemical weapons.

"We support the U.N. investigative team's efforts and have been in regular contact with the chief U.N. investigator as he works to advance a thorough investigation about the use of chemical weapons agents in Syria," Harf said. "As you know, the U.S. intelligence community has assessed that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons - excuse me - chemical warfare agents on a small scale against its own people on multiple occasions."

Harf reiterated that the U.S. wants the U.N. team to have complete access to Syria as part of the team's investigation.

"We strongly agree with the U.N. that access to Syria for its investigating team should proceed without further delay," Harf said. "I know that the team just got there. I don't want to get ahead of the situation on the ground, but we've continued to make the point that these teams need unfettered and full access inside Syria, so we'll see what happens going forward."

When asked how the U.S. will change the balance on the ground in Syria, Harf said the U.S. is increasing its assistance to the opposition to make the opposition stronger and able to come to the table for a resolution to the conflict.

"I think we were clear that that's why we are increasing assistance, both in the scale and the scope of it, to the opposition," Harf said. "We're not going to be able to detail every single way in which we're doing that, every single assistance package that we're providing to them. But we've said that that's why the announcement was made - to continue to increase our assistance, to help the coalition on the ground get further - stronger, excuse me - and come back to the table."