September 12, 2013
U.S. intelligence has yet to uncover evidence that Syrian President
Bashar Assad directly ordered the chemical attacks last month on
civilians in a suburb of Damascus, though the consensus inside U.S.
agencies and Congress is that members of Mr. Assad’s inner circle likely
gave the command, officials tell The Washington Times.
The gap in the intelligence has raised debate in some corners of the
wider intelligence community about whether Mr. Assad has full control of
his war-weary Army and their arsenal of chemical missiles, which most
likely would be treasured by terrorist groups known to be operating in
Syria, said officials, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity
because they were discussing intelligence matters.
“If there was a rogue general that did it on his own accord, that
would be a bigger problem for Assad, because that would imply that he
does not have control of his own weapons,” said one senior congressional
source familiar with U.S. intelligence assessments on Syria.
Apart from concerns about weapons falling into the hands of such
Sunni extremist and al Qaeda-linked groups as the al-Nusra Front, there
are also concerns about serious hurdles now likely to lie ahead for the
international community trying to assemble a special team to work with
Mr. Assad on securing his chemical arsenal.
Full story here.