Kerry: PM cannot confirm Syria used WMDs

US secretary of state responds to comments by Israeli intelligence analyst that Assad had used chemical weapons.

By REUTERS, JPOST.COM STAFF
April 23, 2013 19:02
2 minute read.
US Secretary of State John Kerry, February 20, 2012

kerry370. (photo credit: Screenshot)

 
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Prime Minister Binyamin 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."

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Kerry had been asked about comments by Brigadier-General Itai Brun, an Israeli intelligence analyst, at a Tel Aviv security conference that Syrian forces had used chemical weapons, probably nerve gas, in their fight against rebels.

Brun told a defense conference at Tel Aviv University on Tuesday. that Syrian President Bashar Assad used chemical weapons - likely nerves gas - on armed rebels in the civil war raging in his country.

Brun told said the iNSS conference that there is increasing use of chemical weapons in Syria, and that the Syrian army is firing hundreds of rockets and missiles at civilians.

"There's a huge arsenal of chemical weapons in Syria. Our assessment is that the [Assad] regime has used and is using chemical weapons," Brun said.

Photos of victims showing foam coming out of their mouths and contracted pupils were signs deadly gas had been used, Brun said. "To the best of our understanding, there was use of lethal chemical weapons. Which chemical weapons? Probably Sarin."



Brun also warned that the use of weapons of mass destruction could be interpreted by the Assad regime as a legitimate act as a result of the lack of any response from the world to it.

"How this develops is a good question. We need to be very concerned with the fact chemical weapons might reach less responsible hands that don't consider the consequences of their actions," he cautioned.

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Last week, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the BBC that Israel is prepared to defend itself should Syrian President Bashar Assad's chemical weapons and anti-aircraft weapons fall into the wrong hands.

"The main arms of concern to us are the arms that are already in Syria - these are anti-aircraft weapons, these are chemical weapons and other very, very dangerous weapons that could be game changers," he said.

Netanyahu warned these weapons could change the balance of power in the Middle East, and stressed that it is not just in Israel's interest to stop these weapons from getting into the wrong hands, but it's in other countries' interest as well.

Despite this, Netanyahu echoed past statements that Israel doesn't seek to interfere in the Syrian civil war.

There have been three alleged chemical weapons attacks - the one near Aleppo and another near Damascus, both in March, and one in Homs in December. The rebels and Assad's government blame each other for all of them.

The Syrian government is only willing to allow the UN to investigate what it claims was a rebel chemical attack near Aleppo last month. The opposition has blamed Assad's forces for that strike and also wants the UN team to look into other alleged chemical attacks by the government.

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