Syria Has Used Chemical Weapons in Civil War With Rebels, Israel Says

Assad Forces Suspected of Deploying Sarin Nerve Gas in War

By Reuters

Published April 23, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Syrian government forces have used chemical weapons - probably nerve gas - in their fight against rebels trying to force out President Bashar al-Assad, the Israeli military’s top intelligence analyst said on Tuesday.

Brigadier-General Itai Brun made the comments at a Tel Aviv security conference a day after U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on a visit to Israel that U.S. intelligence agencies were still assessing whether such weapons had been employed.

U.S. President Barack Obama has called the use of chemical weapons a “red line” for the United States that would trigger unspecified U.S. action.

“To the best of our understanding, there was use of lethal chemical weapons. Which chemical weapons? Probably sarin,” Brun said in the most definitive Israeli statement on the issue to date.

Photos of victims showing foam coming out of their mouths and contracted pupils were signs deadly gas had been used, he said.

Forces loyal to Assad were behind the attacks on “armed (rebels) on a number of occasions in the past few months, including the most reported incident on March 19”, Brun said.

The Syrian government and rebels last month accused each other of launching a chemical attack near the northern city of Aleppo.

On Monday, Hagel said the use of chemical weapons by Assad’s forces would be a “game changer” and the United States and Israel “have options for all contingencies”.

Hagel met Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Tuesday, a day after flying in an Israeli military helicopter over the occupied Golan Heights on the edge of the fighting in Syria that has enterered it third year.

“This is a difficult and dangerous time, this is a time when friends and allies must remain close, closer than ever,” Hagel, in remarks to reporters before his talks with Netanyahu, said about the United States and Israel.

IMPASSE

Discussions between Syria and the United Nations on a U.N. investigation of possible use of chemical weapons have been at an impasse due to the Syrian government’s refusal to let the inspectors visit anywhere but Aleppo, diplomats and U.N. officials said last week.

U.N. diplomats said Britain and France had provided Ban’s office with what they believed to be strong evidence that chemical weapons also had been used in the city of Homs.

Israel, which has advanced intelligence capabilities that it shares with its Western allies, has voiced concerned that parts of Syria’s chemical arsenal would end up in the hands of jihadi fighters or the Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah, with which it waged a 2006 war.

Israel leaders have cautioned they will not allow that to happen. In an attack it has not formally confirmed, Israeli planes bombed an arms convoy in Syria in February, destroying anti-aircraft weapons destined for Hezbollah.

Brun, who was speaking at the annual security conference of The Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, said Israel’s military was studying a number of future scenarios facing Syria.

“More likely, as time goes by, are the scenarios of chaos and anarchy, or that of (Syria) breaking up into cantons. These pose major challenges for Israel. The chance of a different central government still exists, but it is growing less likely with time,” Brun said


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • “I don’t want to say, ‘Oh oh, I’m not Jewish,’ because when you say that, you sound like someone trying to get into a 1950s country club, “and I love the idea of being Jewish." Are you a fan of Seth Meyers?
  • "If you want my advice: more Palestinians, more checkpoints, just more reality." What do you think?
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.