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Intercepts caught Assad rejecting requests to use chemical weapons, German paper says

September 10, 2013
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Source: StratRisks

Syrian President Bashar Assad has repeatedly rejected requests from his field commanders for approval to use chemical weapons, according to a report this weekend in a German newspaper.The report in Bild am Sonntag, which is a widely read and influential national Sunday newspaper, reported that the head of the German Foreign Intelligence agency, Gerhard Schindler, last week told a select group of German lawmakers that intercepted communications had convinced German intelligence officials that Assad did not order or approve what is believed to be a sarin gas attack on Aug. 21 that killed hundreds of people in Damascus’ eastern suburbs.

The Obama administration has blamed the attack on Assad. The evidence against Assad was described over the weekend as common sense by White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“The material was used in the eastern suburbs of Damascus that have been controlled by the opposition for some time,” he said. “It was delivered by rockets, rockets that we know the Assad regime has, and we have no indication that the opposition has.”

Russia has questioned that logic, announcing last week that in July it filed a 100-page long “technical and scientific” report on an alleged March 19 chemical weapons attack on a suburb of Aleppo that it says implicates rebel fighters.

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