JERUSALEM - Israel's military intelligence chief says Syria's embattled president, Bashar Assad, is preparing to use chemical weapons.
Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi told a security conference in the coastal town of Herzliya that Assad is stepping up his offensive against rebels trying to oust him.
Kochavi claims Assad is making advanced preparations to use chemical weapons, but has not yet given the order to deploy them.
He did not disclose information about why he thinks Assad is preparing to use them.
Israel has long expressed concerns that Assad's stockpile of chemical weapons could end up in the hands of groups hostile to Israel like Hezbollah or al-Qaida inspired organizations.
Israel has kept out of Syria's civil war, but it is concerned that violence could spill over the border into northern Israel.