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Photo by: IDF Spokesman
IDF deploys Iron Dome battery to Haifa area
By YAAKOV LAPPIN, JPOST.COM STAFF
27/01/2013
Move comes amid escalation in Syria and concern over chemical weapons; IDF: Deployment was routine move.
 
The IDF deployed an Iron Dome air defense battery in the Haifa area on Sunday, amid an escalation in the Syrian civil war and concerns over Syria's sizable chemical weapons arsenal falling into radical Islamic hands.

An army spokesman confirmed that a battery had been deployed to the north, but claimed the move was "routine."

Syrian President Bashar Assad is in possession of large quantities of deadly Sarin and mustard gas compounds, as well as VX nerve agents. Some of the compounds can be affixed to Scud missiles as chemical warheads. The chemicals can also be placed in specialized artillery shells, or dropped from the
air.

Earlier on Sunday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that in the shadow of regional security threats, he intends to form the widest coalition possible.

Speaking at the beginning of the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu pointed to the threat of Iran's nuclear program and suspected chemical weapons in war-torn Syria.

"We must look around us. What is happening in Iran, and the lethal weapons in Syria.. the Middle East in not waiting for the election results, and it does not stop while we form our coalition," Netanyahu warned. "There is a cluster of threats, and their reality continues to evolve."

Syrian rebels clashed with forces loyal to Assad in southwest Damascus on Sunday, forcing the closure of the main highway to the southern town of Deraa, activists said.

The fighting came as United Nations humanitarian chief Valerie Amos visited Syria ahead of a UN aid conference which aims to raise $1.5 billion for millions of people made homeless, hungry and vulnerable by the 22-month-old conflict.

The UN says 60,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

Defense officials have noted in recent months the crumbling of Syria presents a formidable threat to national, regional and global security, a threat that is developing right on Israel’s doorstep.

The presence of disorganized armed militias – some of them affiliated with hardline Islamist-jihadi movements – in a land that hosts what some analysts consider the largest number of chemical weapons in the world creates a clear danger, according to officials. The concern is that rebel fanatical elements or Assad’s close ally, Hezbollah, may try to raid chemical weapons storage facilities.

Reuters contributed to this report.
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