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AP: Chemical Weapons Unlikely In Syria Attack, U.S. Says

AP Photo

The U.S. and allies have been looking into allegations by the Syrian regime that rebels carried out a chemical weapons attack on Khan al-Assal village in northern Aleppo province. The rebels have blamed regime forces.

Syria is widely believed to have a large stockpile of chemical weapons. And, there are fears President Bashar Assad would use those weapons against his people in the ongoing civil war and also concerns that al-Qaida-linked rebels might obtain and use them.

The United Nations announced Thursday that it would investigate the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria, which would amount to a crime against humanity. The probe could also help determine the security of the weapons stockpile.

Intelligence reports late last year showed the Syrian regime may be readying its chemical weapons and could be desperate enough to use them. Those reports prompted a sharp warning from President Barack Obama, who said that Syria's use or movement of its chemical weapons stockpile would change his "calculus" about whether the U.S. might intervene militarily in the conflict.

Although officials won't detail the latest intelligence that was gathered, the U.S. and its allies are generally able to use information from surveillance, intercepted communications, people at the scene, medical and autopsy reports, and soil samples, if available.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.