'US, Israel discuss destroying Syrian weapons'

'NYT': US against attack; Israel concerned Hezbollah will obtain chemical weapons; Nasrallah lauds Assad for providing missiles.

July 19, 2012 14:14
2 minute read.
Chemical WMDs (illustrative)

weapons of mass destruction 311 R. (photo credit: Reuters)

The United States and Israel were in discussions over whether Israel should take out Syrian weapons facilities as the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad falters, The New York Times reported Thursday.

According to the report, which cited two administration officials, the United States is opposed to such an attack "because of the risk that it would give Mr. Assad an opportunity to rally support against Israeli interference."

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Israel discussed the Syrian issues with US National Security Advisor Thomas Donilon during his visit last weekend, the Times quoted a White House official as saying.

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On Wednesday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak spoke with US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and updated him on Israel’s concerns regarding the situation in Syria.

“We believe that the assassination of the top Syrian government officials will speed up Assad’s downfall,” Barak told Panetta, who is scheduled to visit Israel later this month. “We are also closely tracking the possibility that Hezbollah will try to move advanced military platforms or chemical weapons from Syria to Lebanon.”

Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah confirmed in a Wednesday that Syria provided arms not only to Hezbollah, but to terrorist groups in Gaza as well.

In a speech marking the anniversary of the 2006 Lebanon War, Nasrallah said, "Syria was an aid to the Resistance and gave [us] weapons that we used in the July War. Not only in Lebanon, but also in the Gaza Strip," according to Now Lebanon.

Nassrallah's continued support of the embattled Assad accentuated the tight relationship between the two, and hinted at the possibility that Hezbollah may have access to Syria's weapons stores.   

In a bid to boost support for Assad, Nasrallah mocked Egypt and Saudi Arabia for not providing weapons support to "the resistance." The weapons used against Israel, he said, "were rockets from Syria and transferred through Syria. The Syrian leadership was risking its interests and existence in order for the resistance in Lebanon and Palestine to be strong."

"Show me one Arab regime that does the same," he added.

Nasrallah went on to mourn the members of Assad's inner circle killed in a bomb on Wednesday: Syrian Defense Minister Daoud Rajha, former defense minister and senior military official General Hassan Turkmani and Assad's brother-in-law Assef Shawkat.

Yaakov Katz and Herb Keinon contributed to this report.

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