U.S. downplays reports that Syria used chemical weapons

The United States appeared to brush aside a report on Tuesday of a leaked cable from the State Department indicating that Bashar al-Assad's Syrian regime used chemical weapons against rebel forces.

Online magazine Foreign Policy reported that it acquired a leaked report from the department by U.S. diplomats in Turkey that made a compelling case that Syria's forces used poison gas. The report was said to be based on interviews with defectors, doctors and activists as part of a comprehensive effort to look into claims by the Syrian opposition, AFP reports.

Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for the National Security Council, downplayed the report on Tuesday. He said there was no evidence Syria had moved toward the use of chemical weapons.

"The reporting we have seen from media sources regarding alleged chemical weapons incidents in Syria has not been consistent with what we believe to be true about the Syrian chemical weapons program," Vietor said, according to AFP. "The president was very clear when he said that if the Assad regime makes the tragic mistake of using chemical weapons, or fails to meet its obligation to secure them, the regime will be held accountable."

President Obama previously said that the use of chemical weapons or the failure to control a chemical arsenal represented a red line that might lead to more forceful intervention from the U.S.

According to the United Nations, more than 60,000 people were killed as part of the violence in Syria since March 2011, AFP reports.