Who ordered the use of chemical weapons in Syria?

for the latest news reports on who was behind the use of gas in Syria last week, see:

Carmen Rengel (Jerasulen),”El espionaje de Israel interceptó una llamada de cargos sirios sobre el ataque; La Inteligencia israelí interceptó una charla de funcionarios sirios que confirma la implicación del régimen en el ataque químico; Netanyahu llama a filas a reservistas ante una eventual agresión de Damasco,” El Pais, 28 de agosto de 2013 (1603 CET).

According to Rengel, Israel has delivered to the U.S. a tape revealing the unvolvement of a high-level official of the Syrian government in demanding answers regarding the use of gas in Syria last week. The big question is whether such use was ordered by the central command or was rather undertaken by an inferior unit which took matters into its own hands.

Rengel adds that Israeli Channel 2 has also reported, without citing sources, that the chemical attack in Ghuta was carried out by the 155th Brigade of the Fourth Division, which is commanded by Maher Assad, the president’s brother, who is well known for his bloodthirsty character. The projectiles containing toxic gas are said to have been launched from the mountains east of the capital.

See also Noah Shachtman, “Intercepted Calls Prove Syrian Army Used Nerve Gas, U.S. Spies Say,” Foreign Policy (The Cable), August 27, 2013.

The Trenchant Observer

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"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by The Observer, an international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. He is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States (IACHR), where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, The Observer has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. The Observer speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, The Observer has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on the best articles that have appeared in the blog.