Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
could not confirm comments by the Israeli military's top intelligence analyst that Syrian government forces had used chemical weapons, US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday.
"I talked to Prime Minister Netanyahu this morning. I think it is fair for me to say that he was not in a position to confirm that in the conversation that I had," Kerry told a news conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels. "I don't know yet what the facts are."
Kerry had been asked about comments made earlier by Brigadier-General Itai Brun, an Israeli intelligence analyst, who said that Syrian forces had used chemical weapons in their fight against rebels.
Brun said “to the best of our knowledge, Assad has used lethal chemical weapons against the rebels, apparently sarin gas. The chance that these weapons will find their way into the hands of radical elements is very worrying.”
“There was use of chemical weapons during the incident on March 19 and on other instances, in which non-lethal means were used to neutralize,” he said. “We saw signs such as foaming from the mouth and decreased pupil size, which are signs of chemical weapon use.”
Up to this point, the international community, with the US at its head, has not directly accused Assad of chemical weapon use. On Monday, during his visit to Israel,
the issue was raised by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. He said that US intelligence agencies were learning to estimate what had or had not occurred in Syria. If it was shown that Assad was using chemical weapons, Hagel said, the rules of the game would change.
estimated that the longer the civil war in Syria
continued, the greater the chance that the country would disintegrate and that the anarchy would last years.
Israel's fears are based on the belief that Syria holds an arsenal of more than 1,000 tons of chemical weapons, plus thousands of aerial bombs and missile warheads which can be loaded with unconventional weapons. “The Syrian regime is using chemical weapons, but the world prefers not to get involved... These are worrying developments. The use of chemical weapons without an appropriate response is worrying. This signals that the use of chemical weapons is legitimate
Brun also discussed the Syrian civil war's effect on Hezbollah
. “The organization is under pressure, it is afraid that someone will take advantage of the situation and hurt him – even from within Lebanon,”
Brun said. He added that the SA-17s that hit Syria in January were meant for Hezbollah’s use.
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