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The 8200 unit of the Israeli Defence Forces, which specialises in electronic surveillance, intercepted a conversation between Syrian officials regarding the use of chemical weapons, an unnamed former Mossad official told Focus. The content of the conversation was relayed to the US, the ex-official said.

 The 8200 unit collects and analyses electronic data, including wiretapped telephone calls and emails. It is the largest unit in the IDF.

Sherwood, Harriet.  “Israel intelligence ‘intercepted Syrian regime talk about chemical attack’: Information passed to US by Israeli Defence Forces 8200 unit, former official tells magazine.”  The Guardian, August 28, 2013.

Funky timing: for four or five days, not one mention of specifically “who” in the where, what, how, and why of the chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburbs — and today the answer seems to be unavoidable in online search and dated back to August 24 (see the Debka File citation in reference).

Nonetheless, if attributed to Maher al-Assad’s command, then the world has a figure already steeped in legendary criminal malice: there’s not much he can do to cast himself into even a darker light.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, said in March 2011 that Maher’s actions during the uprising approached “savagery,” and urged Bashar to send him into exile.

Alexander, Harriet and Philip Sherwell.  “Maher al-Assad accused of orchestrating deadly chemical weapon attack.”  The Telegraph, August 25, 2013.

Additional Reference

AP.  “Report: Russia to send marines to Syria.”  The Daily Caller, June 18, 2012.  Relayed here for the photograph that tops the piece; it actually seems to cover a Russian defensive effort to secure civilian and military assets exiting Syria a little more than a year ago.

BackChannels.  “In Foreign Affairs – Putin – Analysis from March 2013.”  March 13, 2013.

DEBKA File.  “The sarin shells fired on Damascus – by Syrian 4th Division’s 155th Brigade – were followed by rockets on Israel and car bombings in Lebanon.”  August 24, 2013.

Bryen, Shoshana.  “The Incredible Shrinking US-Israel Security Cooperation.”  June 27, 2012.

Dilanian, Ken.  “Israel may have intercepted Syrian discussions about chemical attack.”  Los Angeles Times, August 27, 2013.

Drury, Ian.  “How the West could smash Assad’s arsenal: US military chiefs draw up a list of targets with UK for precision-guided bombs and missiles.”  Mail Online, August 25, 2013.

El-Khoury, Rajeh.  “Moscow Hints at Break with Assad.”  Al Monitor, February 2, 2012.

Wikipedia.  “Unit 8200”.

Williams, Amanda.  “‘Ruthless’ brother of President Assad accused of being behind chemical weapons attack which killed 1,200 Syrians.”  Mail Online, August 28, 2013.

Staff.  “Israel TV: Chemical weapons were fired by Assad’s brother’s unit.”  Time of Israel, August 24, 2013.

Staff.  “SYRIA: Is mystery gunman President Bashar Assad’s brother, Maher?”  Babylon & Beyond, Los Angeles Times, May 7, 2011.

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