Israeli officials say Assad believed to have up to 3 tons of chemical weapons: report

Israeli officials say Assad believed to have up to 3 tons of chemical weapons: report
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Senior Israeli defense officials on Wednesday said that the military of Syrian President Bashar Assad is believed to have as much as three tons of chemical weapons, despite a 2013 agreement ordering the country to dispose of its stockpiles, The Associated Press reported.

The state of the Syrian government's chemical weapons program has been the subject of fierce scrutiny in recent weeks, after a deadly chemical attack in northern Syria earlier this month killed more than 80 civilians.

A senior Israeli military official told the AP that Assad's military is believed to possess between one and three tons of chemical weapons.

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Assad has fervently denied that Syria was responsible for carrying out the chemical attack, asserting that the government no longer possesses chemical weapons and would not use them even if it did.

But the international community has overwhelmingly placed blame for the chemical weapons attack on the Assad government. Days after the April 4 attack, President Trump ordered a missile strike on the Syrian military airbase from which the chemical attack is believed to have been launched.

That move was widely hailed by world leaders, while Syrian and Russian government officials condemned the U.S. attack as an act of aggression.

Assad's military has used chemical weapons before. A 2013 chemical strike killed more than 1,400 Syrian civilians. Following that attack, Assad agreed to a Russian and American-led deal to shut down his chemical weapons program under threat of U.S. military retaliation.

But questions remained about the efficacy of the agreement and whether Syria had disposed of all its chemical weapons. The attack earlier this month appeared to confirm that Assad had held onto some.