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Obama: Need facts on Syrian chemical weapons

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(CNN) -- The United States will wait until it has more details on the evidence of chemical weapons use in Syria before altering its strategy toward the strife in that country, President Barack Obama said Tuesday.

Obama has called the use of chemical weapons a "red line," but the United States has not radically changed its approach to Syria in the days since an administration official announced that the chemical weapon sarin had been used on a small scale.

The United States doesn't yet know "how they were used, when they were used, who used them," Obama said, adding that "when I am making decisions about American national security and the potential for taking additional action in response to chemical weapons use, I have to make sure I have the facts."

On Tuesday, a spokesman for the Free Syrian Army said that the rebels had secured what they believe is an unexploded chemical weapon deployed by the regime in Idlib. The FSA will try to get the unexploded canister out of the country for testing, he said.

"If the Syrian regime doesn't want to allow the UN investigation team in, we will do all we can in order to present the evidence to the international community because we have the moral and national obligations to our people and our nation," Louay Almokdad said.

The violence in Syria continues unabated.

At least 13 people were killed in a blast in the Syrian capital Tuesday, the government said.

Syrian state-run TV described the blast in Damascus as a "terrorist explosion" that also injured 70 people.

But the rebel spokesman says he believes the attack was set up by the government to garner sympathy ahead of a U.N. meeting.

The blast apparently stemmed from a car bomb parked behind the old building of the Interior Ministry, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The Syrian Observatory, which opposes President Bashar al-Assad's government, said the number of casualties is expected to rise because of the large number of injured people.

Members of the Syrian armed forces were among the injured, the group said.

But Louay Almokdad, a spokesman for the rebel Free Syrian Army, told CNN he believes the attack was staged by the government.

"The latest blasts are nothing but a farce staged by the Assad regime in order to beg for sympathy from the international community on the eve of the U.N. Security Council meeting to discuss the use of chemical weapons by the regime armed forces against our innocent civilians," he said.

He also said the rebel army was not involved in the explosion.

"Setting up car bombs in the capital or anywhere in the country is not a strategy that the FSA condones," Almokdad said. "We reject targeting any civilian area and risking the lives of our civilian population."

Tuesday's blast occurred a day after Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi survived a bombing targeting his motorcade in an upscale Damascus neighborhood, the government and opposition reported.

The Syrian Observatory said one of al-Halqi's escorts and five civilians were killed. Another escort and a driver were badly injured, the group said.

The state-run Syrian Arab News Agency reported casualties but did not elaborate.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the Monday blast. But the rebel spokesman said he believes that attack was also set up by the government.

"Al-Halqi is a minor figure propped by the al-Assad regime, and he is not a strategic target to the FSA or anyone in the revolution. We actually feel sorry for the man who was appointed to be a prime minister," he said.

"Nothing ever changes when it comes to these sick and deadly tactics that the regime uses against its own people and even its own supporters. They don't mind sacrificing a dozen or two so they can look innocent in front of the world," Almokdad said.

The Syrian civil war has pitted al-Assad's forces against rebels seeking an end to four decades of Assad family rule.

The civil war has killed more than 70,000 people, mostly civilians, over the past two years.

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