Most say Syrian Gov't used chemical weapons

June 23, 2013, 4:27 PM GMT+0

Over half of the American public believe the Assad regime has used chemical weapons - and the source most trusted to investigate Syria's chemical weapon use is the British Government

Last week, the White House announced that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons against rebels in Syria's ongoing civil war. Use of chemical weapons has been considered the "red line" for more active US involvement in the conflict.

New research from YouGov shows that a majority of Americans believe that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons. 55% of Americans say that troops loyal to Assad have "probably used chemical weapons" while 7% say they "probably have not" and 38% do not know.

The belief roughly the same across different parties, though Republicans are slightly more likely to say that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons.

While reports have also emerged alleging the possibility of rebels using chemical weapons, Americans are far more unsure whether they had or not. 22% say they had probably used chemical weapons, while 28% say they had probably not and 50% weren't sure.

As for which body Americans trust the most to investigate the use of chemical weapons, the British Government was the one trusted by the highest amount of Americans, followed by the American government.

The UN and the Russian government, on the other hand, are distrusted by more than they were trusted. A poor evaluation for Russia, which has long been a defender of the Assad regime and which has denied the use of chemical weapons, is unsurprising. However, the distrust for the UN provides an interesting contrast with the United Kingdom, where a parallel study was conducted. There, the UN was the most trusted out of the four options and the only one to have more Britons trust it than distrust it.

There is as also a strong partisan element in the evaluation of the US government and the UN. While a majority of Democrats trust both the US government and the UN on the matter, a plurality of Republicans distrust the US government and a majority distrust the UN.

While the United States is now gearing up for more involvement in the conflict, including sending arms to the rebels, recent research from YouGov shows that the majority of Americans are weary of the conflict, with most saying the United States does not a have a responsibility to end the fighting there.

Complete results can be found here.

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