Syrian SIGINT

Foreign Policy is just killing coverage of the Syrian situation. Today with this exclusive story:

Last Wednesday, in the hours after a horrific chemical attack east of Damascus, an official at the Syrian Ministry of Defense exchanged panicked phone calls with a leader of a chemical weapons unit, demanding answers for a nerve agent strike that killed more than 1,000 people. Those conversations were overheard by U.S. intelligence services, The Cable has learned. And that is the major reason why American officials now say they’re certain that the attacks were the work of the Bashar al-Assad regime — and why the U.S. military is likely to attack that regime in a matter of days.

But the intercept raises questions about culpability for the chemical massacre, even as it answers others: Was the attack on Aug. 21 the work of a Syrian officer overstepping his bounds? Or was the strike explicitly directed by senior members of the Assad regime? “It’s unclear where control lies,” one U.S. intelligence official told The Cable. “Is there just some sort of general blessing to use these things? Or are there explicit orders for each attack?”

There’s been a lot of noise from sources close to the blah blah blah that signals intelligence, probably from the Israelis, was behind the calls for intervention and the certainty of the US and UK of the authenticity of the attacks and Assad’s hand in them. This seems to confirm not only that that was true, but also indicates that the US was the interceptor. Interesting development.

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