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Assad Is To Blame For Chemical Weapons Attack, British Say

British Prime Minister David Cameron on Thursday as he left 10 Downing Street in London.
Dan Kitwood
Getty Images
British Prime Minister David Cameron on Thursday as he left 10 Downing Street in London.

Saying that there are "no plausible alternative scenarios," the U.K.'s Joint Intelligence Organisation released a statement Thursday to support the conclusion reached by U.S. and British officials that Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime is responsible for what's said to have been a chemical weapons attack last week near Damascus.

That attack, U.S. and British officials say, killed more than 300 people and may have injured several thousand more.

The statement — in the form of a letter to Prime Minister David Cameron — notes that "it is being claimed, including by the regime, that the attacks were either faked or undertaken by the Syrian Armed Opposition." But, it continues, "there is no credible intelligence or other evidence to substantiate the claims or the possession of [chemical weapons] by the opposition."

The language echoes that of the Obama administration.

According to the British report, Assad's regime has also used chemical weapons "on a smaller scale on at least 14 occasions in the past."

The statement's release was timed to precede a vote in Parliament over whether Britain should take part in any military strike on Syria.

As we noted earlier, The Associated Press is reporting that some U.S. intelligence officials are cautioning that the intelligence linking the regime to the attack is not a "slam dunk."

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.
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