by WorldTribune Staff, April 20, 2017
The Bashar Assad regime in Syria continues to possess up to 3 tons of chemical weapons, the Israeli military said.
The Israeli military estimates Assad has “between one and three tons” of chemical weapons. The estimate marked the first specific intelligence assessment of Syria’s military and weapons capabilities since a chemical attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun on April 4 that killed some 90 people, including dozens of children, Deutsche Welle.com reported.
The Assad regime in 2013 agreed to surrender its chemical weapons arsenal after an attack on an opposition-held Damascus suburb earlier that year killed hundreds and prompted worldwide outrage.
Syria disclosed its chemical weapons stockpile amounted to some 1,300 tons of sarin, VX nerve agent and mustard gas, among other chemical agents. It was said to have been dismantled and destroyed under international supervision in 2014.
UK-based chemical weapons expert Dan Kaszeta told the Associated Press that Israel’s estimate was conservative, but that the remaining amount was enough to be highly lethal.
“One ton of sarin could easily be used to perpetrate an attack on the scale of the 2013 attack,” Kaszeta said. “It could also be used for roughly 10 attacks of a similar size to the recent Khan Sheikhoun attack.”
Israeli intelligence also believes Syrian military commanders ordered the chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun with Assad’s knowledge, three senior defense officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told reporters.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said on April 19 that this country would present proof of the Assad regime’s culpability in the coming days, the Deutsche Welle report said.
Assad continues to deny his forces were behind the gas attack.
In response to the chemical attack, the United States fired 59 missiles at the Syrian airbase said to be used to launch the attack.
“Israel fully supports President Trump’s decision and hopes that this message of resolve in the face of the Assad regime’s horrific actions will resonate not only in Damascus, but in Teheran, Pyongyang and elsewhere,” said a statement issued by the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.