"UPDATED National Security Brief: Israel Says Syria Used Chemical Weapons"
Israel’s top military intelligence analyst said on Tuesday that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons on more than one occasion and, according to the New York Times, criticized the international community for failing to respond.
“The regime has increasingly used chemical weapons,” said Brig. Gen. Itai Brun, commander of the research division in the intelligence directorate of the Israeli Defense Forces. “The very fact that they have used chemical weapons without any appropriate reaction — this is a very worrying development because it might signal that this is legitimate.”
British and French officials told the United Nations last week that there is credible evidence that elements of Bashar al-Assad’s regime used chemical weapons in at least three different locations.
President Obama has said that the Syrian regime using chemical weapons would change his calculous on how the U.S. would deal with the civil war there. “I want to make it absolutely clear to Assad and those under his command — the world is watching,” Obama said in December, “The use of chemical weapons is and would be totally unacceptable. And if you make the tragic mistake of using these weapons, there will be consequences and you will be held accountable,” he said.
Obama reiterated that position last month. “I have made clear that the use of chemical weapons is a game-changer,” he said.
Brun said that the Syrians likely used sarin gas. “Shrunken pupils, foaming at the mouth and other signs indicate, in our view, that lethal chemical weapons were used,” he said.
Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could not confirm Brun’s conclusions.
In other news:
USA Today reports: Roughly one out of five military women say they were victims of unwanted sexual contact by another servicemember since joining the military, according to a Pentagon health survey conducted in 2011 and released Monday.
Reuters reports: Russia will help Egypt develop its nuclear power program, Trade and Industry Minister Hatem Saleh said on Monday, signaling that the Islamist-led state will press ahead with its quest for atomic energy.
The New York Times reports: American and Israeli defense officials welcomed a new arms sale agreement on Monday as a major step toward increasing Israel’s military strength, but Israeli officials said it still left them without the weapons they would need if they decided to attack Iran’s deepest and best-protected nuclear sites.