REPORT: The US intercepted communications that preceded Syria's chemical-weapons attack

US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley holds photos of victims as she speaks as the UN Security Council meets in an emergency session at the UN on April 5, 2017, about the suspected deadly chemical attack that killed civilians, including children, in Syria. Photo: Timothy A. Clary/ AFP/ Getty Images.

A senior US official claimed that military and intelligence operatives had intercepted communications between the Syrian military and chemical experts discussing preparations for last week’s chemical-weapons attack in Syria, according to a CNN report on Wednesday.

The intelligence was part of a larger collection of information that was gathered shortly after the attack on the northwest city of Idlib that killed at least 83 people.

The official also mentioned that due to the substantial amount of intelligence gathered from the region, the US could not have examined all of the data prior to the attack.

No communications that confirmed Russian involvement were intercepted, according to the official, however, he did say that it was likely due to the Russians being more careful in their communications, CNN reported. Russian jets, which may have been purchased by Syrian forces, were reportedly used to drop the ordinance that contained chemical agents. Further, a Russian-made drone was also reported to have been identified in the area, circling potential targets for a follow-up assault that hit a hospital.

Since the attack, US officials, including Defence secretary Jim Mattis, confirmed there was “no doubt” of the Syrian government’s involvement. Additionally, Turkish officials confirmed that Syria was still in possession of chemical weapons, and that autopsies on the victims did indeed show traces of sarin gas, despite Russia’s assertions that Syria’s chemical weapons capabilities had been destroyed in 2013.

“We know they have the expertise. And we suspect that they have help,” a US military official said on April 7.

To date, both Russia and Syria have denied involvement in the attack.

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