Thursday, August 22, 2013

Israeli intelligence backs reports of latest chemical weapons attack in Syria

Intelligence minister criticizes international community over inaction; France says retaliation necessary if reports are true, Turkey says Syria has crossed all 'red lines.'


Israeli intelligence believes that Wednesday's reports of a chemical attack in Damascus are credible, a senior Israeli official said on Thursday.

Yuval Steinitz, the minister for intelligence and strategic affairs, told Israel Radio that it is Israel's intelligence assessment that President Bashar Assad used chemical weapons against Syrian civilians on Wednesday.

This was not the first time chemical warfare was used by Assad in the Syrian civil war, he said, joining Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon who said on Wednesday that the Syrian regime has already used chemical weapons multiple times.

On Wednesday, activists claimed that hundreds were killed in a gas attack in a Damascus suburb. Syria's military command denied the claims.

Steinitz said condemnations made by the international community were mere lip service, since no significant steps were taken to stop Assad. When asked of the United Nations mission to Syria, the minister said that the investigations were not serious.

"The UN is not investigating yesterday's (Wednesday) incident, but events from six months and a year ago… Probing the use of chemical weapons without investigating who used it is ridicules," he said.

A team of UN inspectors had arrived in Damascus on Sunday to investigate claims of chemical weapons use.

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