IDF official: Assad regime is using chemical weapons

White House says it can’t confirm Israeli evaluation.

Itay Brun at iNSS 370 (photo credit: Assaf Shila - Israel San)
Itay Brun at iNSS 370
(photo credit: Assaf Shila - Israel San)
The regime of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad is using chemical weapons, Brig.-Gen. Itai Baron, head of the Research Division at Military Intelligence, stated on Tuesday.
Speaking at a conference held by the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, Baron said that Assad has access to an enormous arsenal of chemical weapons, and that some of those deadly arms have already been put to use, including the probable use of poisonous Sarin gas.
“We believe the regime has, and is using chemical weapons,” Baron said.
He expressed concern over the fact that the international community has failed to respond appropriately to the highly worrying development. Israel is very disturbed by the prospects of chemical weapons reaching other actors in Syria “which do not weigh up considerations of profit and loss,” Baron warned.
But the United States has not reached the same conclusion, senior American officials made clear in response.
US Secretary of State John Kerry went one step further, saying that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu himself could not confirm the comments of Baron.
“I talked to Prime Minister Netanyahu this morning,” Kerry told a news conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels. “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. I don’t know yet what the facts are.”
White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters on Tuesday that the United States had not concluded that chemical weapons had been used and said it is difficult to determine when such weapons are used. He said the US remains concerned about reports that these weapons had been utilized and that Washington is skeptical of reports that the Syrian opposition had used them.
Obama has made clear that the use of chemical weapons or transmission of them to “non-state actors” is unacceptable.
Reuters and Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.