Intelligence Late on Clues of Syria Attack: AP

Information on chemical weapons use was available but had not been processed by time of strike, according to news wire

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Mohamed Abdullah/REUTERS

U.N. chemical weapons experts, some of them wearing gas masks, visit one of the sites of an alleged chemical weapons attack while escorted by Free Syrian Army fighters in the Ain Tarma neighbourhood of Damascus August 28, 2013.

Senior U.S. officials revealed Wednesday that intelligence agencies had found clues of an imminent chemical attack in Syria, but that the intelligence was still being “processed” at the time of the strike against Syrian civilians.

U.S. intelligence officials had intercepted communications from the Syrian government instructing military units to prepare for the August 21st attack — one of Secretary of State John Kerry’s key pieces of evidence linking the attack to Assad’s regime — but the communications had not yet been “processed” at the time of the strike,  the AP reports. After the chemical attack, U.S. intelligence officials looked at satellite footage and other evidence which showed Syrian chemical weapons units preparing for the strike.

A spokesman for the director of national intelligence said that while the satellite footage showed preparations for the attack, the U.S. did not anticipate the chemical weapons strike beforehand. He specified that intelligence officials only saw the footage in the aftermath of the attack.

He offered no reason for the processing delay, but other officials suggest that intelligence resources are simply stretched too thin to watch all satellite footage in real time.


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