Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem on Thursday insisted the nation’s armed forces do not use chemical weapons, despite international suspicion that Syria was behind such an attack this week that killed dozens of people in northwestern Idlib province.

Moallem, in a televised news conference from Damascus, the capital, reiterated the government’s position, categorically denying it used chemical weapons.

“We condemn such a criminal act,” he said, emphasizing “that it is not reasonable that the Syrian army could use chemical weapons now at the time when it has been achieving victories on various fronts.”

The U.S. and other nations accused the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad of carrying out the attack Tuesday, which appeared to involve the use of sarin, a nerve gas, in an area controlled by rebels.

In addition to killing more than 70 people, the attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun injured hundreds.

The Trump administration is weighing options including a military attack that could involve limited airstrikes.

Los Angeles Times reported on April 6 Trump suggested to reporters aboard Air Force One that Assad might not be able to remain in power.

Trump declined to indicate what steps he might take: “I don’t want to say what I’m going to be doing with respect to Syria.”

Meanwhile, some European experts suggest the chemical attack could have been carried out by jihadi rebels.  It wouldn't be the first time, according to them.

The Syrian regime may not have had a compelling motive, believes Gunther Meyer, the director of the Research Center for the Arab World at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz.  “Only armed opposition groups could profit from an attack with chemical weapons,” he told Deutsche Welle (DW).  “With their backs against the wall, they have next to no chance of opposing the regime militarily. As President [Donald] Trump's recent statements show, such actions make it possible for anti-Assad groups to receive further support.” 

Former President Barack Obama famously drew a “red line” in 2012.  “We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized.  That would change my calculus,” he said at the time.  Meyer views the statement as an “invitation for Assad's opponents to use chemical weapons and make the Assad regime responsible for it.”

In 2014, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh reported on opposition forces' ability to use chemical weapons.  In an article for the London Review of Books, Hersh obtained documents from the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).  They reportedly suggested that the Nusra Front, a Syrian offshoot of al Qaeda, had access to the sarin nerve agent.  A chemical weapons attack on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta in August 2013, which was blamed on Assad, was carried out by rebels, according to Hersh's article.  They wanted Washington to presume Assad had crossed Obama's "red line" and draw the US into a war.