UPDATE 10:03 a.m. EST: Bashar al-Assad dismissed the allegations as "fabrication."
ORIGINAL STORY: U.S. military and intelligence officials intercepted communications between the Syrian military and chemical weapons experts discussing preparations for the attack launched last week, CNN reported.
The intercepts were part of an intelligence review in the hours after the attack. The U.S. was not aware the attack was happening in advance. So much data is swept up in such intercepts that it is often not processed unless there is a compelling reasons for analysts to revisit it.
I would like to think that they didn't know, but certainly they could have.
No intercepts confirm that Russia knew in advance about the attack. An official told CNN the Russians are more careful in their communications to avoid intercepts. Both the Russian and Syrian governments have denied being behind the attacks.
Experts believe Syria had spoken to the chemical weapons experts before 2013, when the government pledged to give up its chemical weapon inventory, and re-established the connection recently.
Russia had recently condemned the U.S. for launching airstrikes against Syria without what it considered sufficient evidence that the Syrian government was behind the attacks.
There is evidence that a Russian drone flew over the Syrian hospital that treated people after the attack.
WATCH | Former Obama administration officials said the highly touted chemical weapons deal wasn't as solid as it seemed.
The war in Syria has brought U.S.-Russia relations to a "low point." President Trump, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian President Vladimir Putin all echoed that sentiment Wednesday, when Tillerson met with Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
Russia vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution on Syria, marking the eighth time it has done so. The resolution would have required Bashar al-Assad's government to cooperate with U.N. investigators.
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