US has evidence Assad used chemical weapons - report
American intelligence services overhead a Syrian defence official making "panicked phone calls with the leader of the chemical weapons unit" following last week's deadly chemical attack, according to a Foreign Policy magazine report released Tuesday.
"Last Wednesday, in the hours after a horrific chemical attack east of Damascus, an official at the Syrian Ministry of Defense exchanged panicked phone calls with a leader of a chemical weapons unit, demanding answers for a nerve agent strike that killed more than 1,000 people. Those conversations were overheard by U.S. intelligence services...and that is the major reason why American officials now say they're certain that the attacks were the work of the Bashar Assad regime - and why the US military is likely to attack that regime in a matter of days", the report said.
Foreign Policy's report emerges amid the announcement made by US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel who on Tuesday that the US "is ready to go" on any possible attack on Syria whenever President Barack Obama gives orders.
Over fears that getting involved in Syria would lead to a repetition of failures in Iraq and Afghanistan, the US and its allies are thought be ensuring any possible strike is carefully constructed so it is contained and does not result in Islamist factions getting the weapons following the attack.
The West insists that this attack is not seeking a regime change in Syria, but is seeking to punish Assad and his regime for using 'morally obscene' chemical weapons against residents in the suburbs of Damascus.
The grounds for a US-led military intervention in Syria was laid out by US Vice President Joe Bide, who for the first time since last week's attack that may have killed over 1,300 people, said that it can only have been perpetrated by Assad's forces, AFP reported.
- 'Strong evidence" of chemical weapon use in Syria, says Kerry
- U.S. unable to "conclusively determine" use of chemical weapons
- Obama demands accountability as Kerry warns Syria over 'morally obscene' chemical weapons use
- U.S. has reason to believe chemical weapons used in Syria this month
- Assad denies chemical weapons claims, challenges US to provide evidence