Israel asked Jordan on a number of occasions for “permission” to bomb Syrian
chemical weapons sites, The Atlantic reported Monday, citing intelligence
sources in both countries.
According to the report, Amman turned down
requests a number of times in the past two months, saying “the time was not
Jordan is reportedly wary of allowing Israel to bomb the sites in
Syria, fearing a military response on Jordanian territory.
“A number of
sites are not far from the border,” the report quoted a foreign source as
“The Jordanians have to be very careful about provoking the
regime and they assume the Syrians would suspect Jordanian complicity in an
Israeli attack,” the source said.
The official added: “You know the
Israelis – sometimes they want to bomb right away.
But they were told
that from the Jordanian perspective, the time was not right.”
said the Israeli requests were communicated through Mossad intermediaries
dispatched by the Prime Minister’s Office. The Israeli embassy in Washington did
not respond to a request for comment on the issue.
Officials in Jerusalem
did not comment on the report, although one source said Israel has “been talking
with relevant parties” about the Syrian chemical weapons issue. He would not
specify whether Jordan was one of those countries.
The source said Israel
has been saying for months that it was concerned about the possible transfer of
Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons – the third largest in the world – to
“unsavory actors” such as Hezbollah, Hamas or al-Qaida.
He said Israel
“reserves the right to preempt” if this is done.
“This is not just
Israel’s interest, but the joint interest of the international community as
well,” he said.
The report in The Atlantic followed a report by The New
York Times indicating that Western intelligence officials have noticed new
worrying signs of activity at chemical weapons sites in Syria. The Syrian regime
is “doing some things that suggest they intend to use the weapons,” one American
intelligence official told The New York Times, adding, “It’s not just moving
stuff around. These are different kind of activities.”
officials were unsure of Syria’s intentions regarding the work at the chemical
sites, but said it is possible Damascus is preparing to use chemical weapons as
a last-ditch effort to defeat rebels, according to the report.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton responded to The New York Times report,
saying the US is planning to take action should Syrian President Bashar Assad
use his significant chemical weapons stockpile against his own
“I’m not going to telegraph in any specifics what we would do in
the event of credible evidence that the Assad regime has resorted to using
chemical weapons against their own people,” Clinton was quoted by The Washington
Post as saying Monday in Prague.
“But suffice to say we are certainly
planning to take action.”