Syrian regime behind attacks but Assad not complicit - German intelligence
Forces loyal to the Syrian government may have used chemical agents against civilians without the permission of President Bashar Assad, German intelligence reported on Sunday.
According to a report run by Germany's Bild am Sonntag paper quoting German intelligence, Syrian brigade and division commanders had been seeking permission from Damascus to use chemical weapons for the last four-and-a-half months but had been repeatedly denied access to the agents, Reuters reported.
This intelligence could imply that Assad did not personally approve the chemical weapons attack on the Damascus suburbs in which more than 1,400 people were killed on August 21, according to Reuters.
According to the Bild report and Reuters, the radio traffic was intercepted by a German naval reconnaissance vessel, the Oker, sailing close to the Syrian coast.
Last week, BND chief Gerhard Schindler briefed the German parliament's defence and foreign affairs committee on intelligence gathered the Syrian crisis, stating that the now two-and-a-half year old Syrian civil war could continue for years, according to Reuters.
The chief of staff of Germany's armed forces, General Volker Wieker, also briefed top German lawmakers on the growing influence of extremist factions, such as Al Qaeda, on the Syrian rebel forces.
Members of the foreign affairs committee told Reuters Schindler reported that although the BND was lacking absolute proof that Assad was behind the attacks, it had strong evidence to suggest the regime played a part in the chemical strike.
Last week, German officials said they had intercepted a phone call made between a high ranking Hezbollah official and the Iranian embassy in Damascus in which the official said Assad had ordered the attack, Reuters reported.
Germany, alongside other EU members, blames Assad for the chemical weapons attack but is urging the US to wait until UN weapons inspectors submit their findings from Damascus before launching a military strike on Syria.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel repeated in an interview with Bild am Sonntag that Germany would not take part in any military intervention but that the use of chemical weapons should not go without response, according to Reuters.