The major reason for U.S. officials insisting they are certain the Syrian regime is responsible for last week's chemical attack is an intercepted phone call, it has been claimed.
U.S. intelligence listened in on the call between an official at the Syrian Ministry of Defense and someone at the country's chemical-defense unit, reports Foreign Policy
During the call, the defense official demanded answers about the Aug. 21 nerve agent strikes that are believed to have killed more than 1,000 people.
"In the days after the attacks, there was a great deal of public discussion about which side in Syria's horrific civil war actually launched the strike," Foreign Policy reports. "Allies of the Assad regime, like Iran and Russia, pointed the finger at the opposition. The intercepted communications told a different story — one in which the Syrian government was clearly to blame."
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But the call does not answer persistent questions about President Bashar Assad's responsibility for the attacks. "It's unclear where control lies," a U.S intelligence official told Foreign Policy's The Cable, adding, "Is there just some sort of general blessing to use these things? Or are there explicit orders for each attack?"
U.S. analysts also are unclear about why Assad would launch such a deadly chemical attack at that particular time. "We don't know exactly why it happened," the intelligence official said. "We just know it was pretty … stupid."
The Obama administration is now considering options for a military response
and has said it will not wait for answers to every question before taking limited military action.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney has called the work of United Nations inspectors who are in Syria gathering evidence "redundant ... because it is clearly established already that chemical weapons have been used on a significant scale."
But skeptics have warned
that Washington must be absolutely certain it was Assad's government that used chemical weapons and not rebels anxious to draw the United States into the war.
According to CNN
, an intelligence report on Syria is being compiled by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. It reportedly could be released by Thursday.
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