Israel Apy Agency has Presence in Syria, Says Senior Rebel General By
Israel is one of several countries that maintain a significant intelligence presence inside Syria, according to the top commander of the Syrian rebel forces. General Salim Idriss, Chief of Staff for the Free Syrian Army, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that the Jewish state has “many, many” intelligence officers in various parts of Syria. The Arab country has been rocked since 2011 by a violent civil war, which has cost the lives of at least 60,000 people. Idriss was responding to comments made earlier this week by Brigadier General Itai Brun, senior intelligence analyst for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Brun, who heads the Division for Research and Analysis of the IDF’s Military Intelligence Directorate, was speaking at a conference hosted in Tel Aviv, Israel, by the Institute for National Security Studies. He told an audience of intelligence experts that the IDF was “quite certain” that the Syrian government headed by President Bashar al-Assad had resorted to the use of chemical weapons against rebel forces on at least one instance. According to Brun, footage obtained by the IDF of rebel casualties from a March 19 attack by Syrian government forces, pointed to the use of sarin nerve gas. He referred to evidence such as the victims’ dilated pupils and “the foam coming out of their mouths” as strong proof of the use of weaponized sarin nerve gas in the battlefield. Responding to Brun’s allegations, General Idriss suggested that Syrian government forces had used chemical weapons repeatedly in a variety of locations, including Aleppo, Homs, and the outskirts of capital Damascus. He added that rebel forces had collected “some samples of soil and blood” and surrendered it to outside “observers” of the civil war —though he refused to identify these observers. After some pressure from Amanpour, Idriss said it made sense for the IDF to know that sarin nerve gas had been used by the Syrian government, since Israel was one of several countries that had “many, many” intelligence officers inside Syria. Asked by Amanpour whether he was referring to Israeli covert-action agency Mossad, Idriss responded “yes”. In response to Brun’s comments, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters on Tuesday that Washington was “looking for conclusive evidence, if it exists, if there was use of chemical weapons”.
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