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Israel says Syria still has tons of chemical weapons

21 April 2017

A senior Israeli military official said Israeli intelligence believes Syrian military commanders ordered the attack, with Mr Assad's knowledge.

The suspected attack on the rebel-held town in Idlib province killed at least 87 people, including many children, and images of the dead and of suffering victims provoked global outrage. It was the first time United States forces had directly attacked government forces in the six-year civil war.

The regime in Damascus may be calculating that the United States would be more reluctant to strike in close proximity to the Russian troops and their anti-aircraft systems. The fighting has killed an estimated 400,000 people and displaced half of Syria's population.

The US and many other nations have accused the Syrian government of responsibility.

Israel's military said on Wednesday it believes Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces still possess several tonnes of chemical weapons, issuing the assessment two weeks after a chemical attack that killed almost 90 people in Syria.

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The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said Wednesday that samples from 10 separate victims of the attack indicated exposure to sarin or a sarin-like substance.

Smith said extremists could make warfare-grade mustard and chlorine "fairly easily".

The U.S. -led coalition has targeted ISIS munitions depots and weapon-manufacturing sites with airstrikes in Iraq and Syria.

Also Wednesday, multiple Israeli defense officials told the Associated Press that Assad still has up to three tons of chemical weapons.

"These have tested positive for the chemical nerve agent sarin or a sarin-like substance".

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"There has been a deep concern that the Syrian stockpile might fall into the wrong hands", he said.

Moreover, Postol argued that the evidence shows the shell containing Sarin could not have been dropped from an aircraft.

Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, a former commander of the British military's chemical weapons unit who is now assisting Syrian NGOs, said that he estimated that Assad retained 200 tons of chemical weapons, but felt that Sakat's estimate of 700 tons was "plausible". Smith said that his team removed weapons the government declared, but that "It was on a bit of a trust basis".

Further slamming the strike, Shaba'an said the USA missile strike was a "reckless aggression that took place without investigation", adding that what the United States is doing today reflects "confusion".

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