German Intelligence Concludes Assad is Behind Chemical Attack
The German intelligence agency (BND) has enough evidence in its possession to conclude that President Bashar Al-Assad ordered the suspected chemical attack in Syria on August 21, Russia Today (RT) reported Monday, citing a report in the German weekly Der Spiegel.
The Der Spiegel report was based on the results of a secret security briefing.
The BND’s President Gerhard Schindler voiced his support for U.S. allegations that Assad‘s government ordered the attack on the eastern Damascus suburb of Ghouta, according to the German weekly.
The intelligence agency’s chief said that following a thorough analysis his ministry assumes that the regime is the perpetrator of the chemical attack which killed hundreds of people.
Schindler reportedly said in the meeting that only the Syrian government was in possession of such agents as sarin. The agency’s experts concluded it was used in large amounts in the Ghouta incident.
According to Der Spiegel, a reason behind Assad’s decision to deploy the gas was that this was a crucial battle for the capital. The BND believes that sarin may have been meant as a deterrent against rebel forces, but mistakenly the military used too much of it.
As well, said the weekly, the BND said only Syrian government experts could mix sarin and place it inside small rockets. The process reportedly took place several times prior to the alleged attack which sparked the investigation.
The BND cited new evidence to conclude the agent used was sarin, having intercepted communications between a high level Hezbollah official and Iran’s embassy.
The German agency’s findings are in line with findings of the United States. On Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that the administration had new evidence that sarin gas was used in the chemical attack.
"We know that the regime ordered this attack," he said. "We know they prepared for it. We know where the rockets came from. We know where they landed. We know the damage that was done afterwards."
It is unknown how the intelligence findings will affect, if at all, Germany’s position on joining possible U.S. military action in Syria.
On Sunday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her challenger in the country’s upcoming election both said they would not participate in military action against Syria.
Merkel said that "Germany will not participate" in a military strike as she faced center-left rival Peer Steinbrueck during a televised debate before the September 22 vote.
Merkel said that there needs to be "a collective answer by the UN" to the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
Steinbrueck said he wouldn't participate in military action as chancellor and would "greatly regret it" if the U.S. strikes alone without an international mandate.
By ruling out intervention in Syria, Germany joined Britain. Last Thursday, British MPs voted to reject possible military action against the Assad regime in Syria to deter the use of chemical weapons. A government motion was defeated by 285 to 272.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said following the vote that it was clear Parliament does not want action and added that "the government will act accordingly."
At the same time, several British parliamentarians from both sides of the aisle have said that they wanted parliament to reconsider its decision. The calls were led by former MPs Lord Howard, (Conservative), Lord Ashdown (Liberal Democrat), as well as former Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind.