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Western Signal Intelligence Driving Debate Over Syria

Analysts unpacking the West’s approach to the Syria crisis have, among other things, turned to the importance that signal intelligence is playing in the policy and public debates over the war.

Reports emerged over the weekend that British intelligence had intercepted exchanges between senior Syrian military figures explicitly ordering battlefield units to deploy chemical weapons against rebel-held suburbs of Damascus. British media described the conversation as being between an artillery battery captain and a regional commander. The commander threatened the captain with death if he did not launch the shells.

Meanwhile an article by defense expert Noah Schachtman published last week in Foreign Policy described how U.S. signal intelligence picked up a panicked conversation between Syrian military officers immediately after after the strike. T

Last Wednesday, in the hours after a horrific chemical attack east of Damascus, an official at the Syrian Ministry of Defense exchanged panicked phone calls with a leader of a chemical weapons unit, demanding answers for a nerve agent strike that killed more than 1,000 people. Those conversations were overheard by U.S. intelligence services, The Cable has learned… “It’s horrible, it’s stupid,” the intelligence official said about the East Ghouta attack by the Syrian military. “Whatever happens in the next few days — they get what they deserve.”

[Photo: Spitfire 13 / Flickr]