It is difficult to believe that President Bashar al-Assad had no knowledge of the deadly chemical attack on Syrian civilians in early April, a senior Israeli intelligence officer said Wednesday.
The Israeli officer said the attack utilized the lethal nerve agent sarin and was carried out by senior Syrian army officers.
“It’s hard to believe that he didn’t know about it….Using sarin shows that [Assad is] deeply frustrated, and even though he has used chemical weapons in the past, this use created a change,” the officer said, Haaretz reported.
The intelligence official said the American missile strike on a Syrian air force base in response to the chemical attack was not a strategic turning point in the ongoing six-year Syrian Civil War, but rather “a combat development.”
The officer’s comments came as U.S. defense officials reported Wednesday the Syrian regime has started to relocate its warplanes in close proximity to Russia’s Khmeimim Air Base in Syria’s Latakia Governorate, purportedly to deter the U.S. from any future attacks against its aircraft. Russian forces have reportedly placed advanced anti-aircraft missile systems at the air base, which is one of two primary Russian military installations in Syria.