Der Spiegel reports: Germany has said in no uncertain terms that it will not participate in a strike on Syria without the backing of the United Nations Security Council. But the country’s foreign intelligence agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), agrees with the US position which holds Syrian President Bashar Assad responsible for the poison gas attacks near Damascus on Aug. 21. In a secret briefing to select lawmakers on Monday, BND head Gerhard Schindler said that while there is still no incontestable proof, analysis of the evidence at hand has led his intelligence service to believe that Assad’s regime is to blame.
In the briefing, Schindler said that only the Assad regime is in possession of binary chemical weapons such as sarin. The BND believes that regime experts would be the only ones capable of manufacturing such weapons and deploying them with small missiles. The BND believes that such weapons had been used several times prior to the attack on Aug. 21, which is believed to have killed more than 1,400 people. Schindler said in the earlier attacks, however, the poison gas mixture was diluted, explaining the much lower death tolls in those assaults.
During his 30-minute presentation, Schindler offered up scenarios to explain why the Assad regime resorted to chemical weapons use, including, he said, the possibility that Assad sees himself involved in a crucial battle for Damascus. The city is besieged by rebel groups, with particular pressure coming from the east. Schindler believes it is possible that the regime ordered the use of poison gas as a way of intimidating the rebels. It could also be the case that errors were made in mixing the gas and it was much more potent than anticipated, he said. [Continue reading…]