Barak: Israel may seize advanced weapons in Syria

Defense Minister says military prepared for operation should Syrian gov't hands missiles, chemical weapons to Hezbollah.

IDF's Givati Brigade excercise 370 (photo credit: IDF Spokesman's Office)
IDF's Givati Brigade excercise 370
(photo credit: IDF Spokesman's Office)
Defense Minister Ehud Barak made clear over the weekend that Israel would take military action if needed to ensure that Syria’s advanced weapon systems and chemical weapons do not fall into Hezbollah’s hands.
“Syria has advanced antiaircraft missiles, surface-tosurface missiles and elements of chemical weapons,” Barak said on Friday in a Channel 2 interview. “I directed the IDF to prepare for a situation where we will need to consider the possibility of an attack.”
In an interview on Channel 10 he added that the “moment [President Bashar Assad] starts to fall we will conduct intelligence monitoring and will liaise with other agencies.”
One government official added that Israel was concerned that in the current disorder and confusion in Syria, the stockpile of nonconventional weapons – as well as advanced conventional weapons – could reach “terrorist groups and other extremist elements.”
According to the official, Israel was following the situation very closely and “looking at different contingency plans. To do otherwise would be irresponsible.” The official refused to elaborate on the contingency plans.
Soon after Barak’s comments, the White House said on Saturday that the US was closely monitoring Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile
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and “actively consulting” with Damascus’s neighbors to stress concerns over the security of those weapons and Syria’s responsibility to safeguard them.
“We believe Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile remains under Syrian government control,” White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said. “Given the escalation of violence in Syria and the regime’s increasing attacks on their people, we remain very concerned about these weapons.”
Meanwhile, the Free Syrian Army is forming a team to secure the country’s chemical weapons, an FSA general told the Daily Telegraph on Saturday.
According to the report, the rebel general was once in charge of drafting plans to secure the same sites in his previous role in Assad’s army. He came out of retirement to join the opposition earlier this year.
“We have a group just to deal with chemical weapons,” Gen.
Adnan Silou told the Telegraph.
He went on to describe two chemical weapons sites, one in east Damascus and another near Homs, according to the report.
A Syrian military defector claimed last week that Assad’s forces were moving chemical weapons across the country for possible use against the opposition, in retaliation for the killing of four top security officials on Wednesday.