Analysis: Israel on high alert over Syrian WMDs

Radical groups won't be allowed to get Syria WMDs.

January 28, 2013 22:39
1 minute read.
IDF soldier in the Golan overlooking Syria [file]

IDF soldier in the Golan overlooking Syria 370 (R). (photo credit: NIR ELIAS / Reuters)


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Israel is following the possibility of the transfer of Syria's chemical weapons to radical elements, as its neighbor to the north appears to be gradually approaching a final meltdown.

With dozens of storage and production sites for chemical weapons spread out across Syria, any foreign involvement would require extensive planning, intelligence and resources to succeed.

There are two scenarios that Israel deems unacceptable in Syria. The first is a transfer of chemical weapons and advanced strategic missiles to Hezbollah, and the second involves raids by al-Qaida-affiliated rebel groups, like Jabhat al-Nusra, on a Syrian chemical weapons depot.

Neither radical Shi'ite nor extremist Sunni groups will be permitted to lay their hands on unconventional weapons in Syria.

It may also become necessary to inject special forces into the arena, to ensure that sites containing Sarin, mustard gas compounds and VX nerve agents are no longer a threat.

What remains unclear is whether Israel will take the lead, or whether the US will become involved and carry out air strikes if necessary. The potential role of the US's regional allies, like Turkey and Jordan, also remains unclear.

Either way, Israel is taking no chances.

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It is no coincidence that as Syrian rebels continued to make progress in their war against the regime's forces, the IDF stationed two Iron Dome air defense batteries in the North on Sunday. It seems fair to assume that the move is just one of a series of preparations, most of them covert, for the possibility of escalations with Syria.

Whether the US or Israel end up making a move, the response by President Bashar Assad¹s regime ­ if it is still able to respond by the time of a strike ­ will likely be the same.

Missile fire would be directed at Israel and US targets in the region.

Complicating the picture is Iran¹s threat this week that any attack on Syria would be seen by Tehran as an attack on itself. This posturing is designed to deter any intervention in Syrian affairs, but could end up dragging Iran and its proxy Hezbollah into a new conflict with anyone who takes action in Syria.

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