Thursday, August 29, 2013

Syria: UK intelligence blames Assad regime for chemical attacks

(Guardian) Britain's joint intelligence committee (JIC) has concluded it is "highly likely" that the regime of Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the chemical weapons attacks in Syria last week that have prompted moves towards launching military strikes.

In an echo of the buildup to the Iraq war in 2003, Downing Street took the rare step of releasing the assessment of the JIC to support its case that the Assad regime was responsible.

But the assessment was mainly based on "open source" evidence such as video footage of the victims and a judgment that the opposition does not have the capability to launch such an attack.

Downing Street sources said the intelligence, outlined by David Cameron to Tory MPs at a Westminster meeting, presented a "compelling and conclusive" case of the involvement of the Assad regime in the chemical attack.

MPs, who are due to hold an initial non-binding vote on Thursday night, are being put on notice that they may have to return to Westminster on Saturday or Sunday to authorise military action in a second vote. Tentative plans for the first weekend sitting of parliament since the Falklands war in 1982 are being made amid signs that the White House is willing to show Britain some flexibility but cannot wait indefinitely.

One source said No 10 was now confident Cameron would win the vote on Thursday night after setting out the legal case and intelligence evidence to Conservative MPs during a pre-debate meeting. The source said MPs spoke out "overwhelming" in support of the government's motion approving "legal, proportionate" military action in Syria if necessary. "We're confident the argument is being made," the source said.

Read full article here.


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