Israel says Syria used chemical arms, probably nerve gas

JERUSALEM Tue Apr 23, 2013 9:31am BST

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JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Syrian government forces have used chemical weapons - probably nerve gas - in their fight against rebels waging a two-year-old uprising, the Israeli military's top intelligence analyst said on Tuesday.

Brigadier-General Itai Brun told a security conference photos of victims showing foam coming out of their mouths and contracted pupils were signs deadly gas had been used.

"To the best of our understanding, there was use of lethal chemical weapons. Which chemical weapons? Probably Sarin," Brigadier-General Itai Brun said in remarks broadcast on Army Radio.

In a transcript of Brun's speech provided by the Israeli military, he said forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad were behind the attacks on "armed (rebels) on a number of occasions in the past few months".

The Syrian government and rebels last month accused each other of launching a chemical attack near the northern city of Aleppo.

On Monday, U.S. Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel, who is visiting Israel, said U.S. intelligence agencies were still assessing whether chemical weapons may have been used in Syria's civil war.

"We, the United States, along with Israel have options for all contingencies and certainly the Syrian government's use of chemical weapons would be a game changer in crossing that red line," Hagel said.

(Reporting by Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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