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Geopolitics

Report: US Says Intercepted Calls Prove Syrian Army Behind Chemical Attack

FOREIGN POLICY, REUTERS, BBC, RUSSIA TODAY, SANA (Syria)

Worldcrunch

DAMASCUS - American intelligence services say they have intercepted "panicked phone calls" between an official at the Syrian Ministry of Defense and a leader of a chemical weapons unit last Wednesday, after the alleged chemical attack took place.

The magazine Foreign Policy, which reported the claim quoting an anonymous intelligence official, says this is the reason why US officials are certain the alleged nerve agent strike was carried by Bashar al-Assad's army.

However, according to Foreign Policy, the intercepted phone call does not establish if the alleged attack was the work of a Syrian officer "overstepping his bounds" or if the order came from senior officials, nor does it explain what the reason would have been for Assad's army to carry out the attack.

"We don't know exactly why it happened," the anonymous intelligence official said to the magazine. "We just know it was pretty (fu*#ing) stupid."

Late Tuesday, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem reiterated that the army had not used chemical weapons. He added, "Syria has immediately agreed to the UN requests and there was no delay, and I say to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that we are not obstructing UN inspectors' work." He said the US did not want a political solution because "Israel does not want this solution, but rather it wants the continuation of violence and terrorism."

The American intelligence reports come as the United States, backed by France and United Kingdom, are stepping up their preparations for a possible strike on military targets.

Syrian National Coalition official Ahmad Ramadan told AFP: "There is no precise timing... but one can speak of an imminent international intervention against the regime. It's a question of days and not weeks."

A branch of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, an al-Qaeda linked group that is among the rebels fighting in Syria, threatened the Syrian government with a "Volcano of Revenge," in response to the chemical attack, Reuters reports.

Meanwhile, the UN chemical weapons inspectors resumed their investigations on Wednesday morning. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement that the team of experts needed "time to do its job" and "to establish the facts." David Cameron announced on Twitter that Britain would put a draft resolution to the United Nations Security Council "condemning the chemical weapons attack by Assad and authorising necessary measures to protect civilians."

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