In a remarkable reversal, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in Abu Dhabi Thursday afternoon, April 25, that the US intelligence community believes the Syrian government has used chemical weapons against its own people, determining with “varying degrees of confidence” that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces have used the nerve agent sarin against civilians and forces fighting to remove Assad from power.
The White House is informing Congress about the chemical weapons use now, Hagel said, hours after he voiced reservations about the assessment Tuesday by senior Israeli military intelligence officer Brig. Gen. Itai Brun that the Assad regime had begun to practice chemical warfare.
Earlier Thursday, Israel Air Force F-16 warplanes downed a Hizballah drone 8 kilometers out at sea from the big port of Haifa. It flew south from the direction of Lebanon. Witnesses on Haifa’s Mt. Carmel watched the smoke trails of the Israeli jets and heard exploding rockets.
Israeli Navy ships are out searching for debris in the Mediterranean Sea.
The Israeli army spokesman issued a statement: An attempt by an unmanned aerial vehicle to enter Israel’s air space was thwarted. The UAV was identified flying from the north past the coast of southern Lebanon and continuing south. It was tracked continuously until it was downed by Israeli fighter planes and attack helicopters.
They went into action after the drone was identified as not coming from a friendly source. The Air Force gave the order to shoot it down.”