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On Syria, Pinheiro Says No “Seal of Approval” for Rebels, Dodges on Chemical Weapons

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 21 – When the UN's Syria Commission of Inquiry briefed the Security Council then the media on Friday, commissioner Carla Del Ponte was not with them.

She famously spoke of strong suspicions that the rebels used chemical weapons – a statement nearly immediately undercut by others in the UN, including Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Commission chair Paulo Pinheiro.

Pinheiro began his Friday stakeout by saying that everything he and co-panelist Karen AbuZayd said, Del Ponte agreed with.

Inner City Press asked about her previous statement on the rebels' use of chemical weapons, which was dropped from the panel's report. Pinheiro cited back to the press release, but went on to say that they have no proof of government use either.

It's doubtful that the US wants to hear this. Also, Inner City Press asked if the Commission keeps track of allegations against different parts of the armed opposition, Al Nusra versus the Free Syrian Army for example, and could give any “seal of approval.”

Pinheiro said it's all relative, and dismissed the idea that there are good guys. Again, with the US moving to provide arms to elements they will describe as good, this cannot be helpful.

Pinheiro and AbuZayd seemed surprised by the focus on chemical weapons. But since Obama has made that his red line, then had Ben Rhodes say that it was crossed, the focus was predictable. So is much else. Watch this site.

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