'US, Israel fear terrorists will obtain Syrian weapons'

'Wall Street Journal' cites CIA report that Syrian conventional, non-conventional weapons include chemical and biological agents.

August 27, 2011 12:48
2 minute read.
Protesters with a defaced poster of Assad

Defaced Syria Assad Poster 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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The United States and Israel voiced serious concern that terrorist groups would use the faltering regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad to seize  government stockpiled nonconventional weapons, including mustard gas and Sarin gas, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday.

"We are very concerned about the status of Syria's WMD, including chemical weapons," said Dr. Michael Oren, Israel's ambassador to the United States.

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Arab World: Is Bashar next?
Activists: Syrian forces kill 8, protesters hail Libya

Much like the collapse of Muammar Gaddafi's regime in Libya, clashes between Syrian government forces and protesters weakened the regime, which analysts fear make it difficult to protect government property, including weapons stores.

According to a CIA report written in 2009, "Syria has had a [chemical weapons] program for many years and already has a stockpile of CW agents, which can be delivered by aircraft, ballistic missiles and artillery rockets," the Wall Street Journal reported.

Amid continuing unrest in Syria, Damascus increased shipments of advanced missiles and other weapons to Hezbollah, The Times of London reported in July, quoting Western intelligence officials.

The officials said Syria provided Hezbollah with eight Scud D missiles that have a range of 700 kilometers.

The missiles "are accurate to within tens of meters and bring all of Israel, Jordan and large parts of Turkey within Hezbollah's range," the officials were quoted by the newspaper as saying.

They also said that, "This is the first time that a terror organization has obtained a missile of this type," which is considered a "strategic weapon" that "has been held only by national armies."

Besides Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas also reportedly keeps close ties with Syria, and serves as a possible destination for weapons Assad might want to keep out of the hands of his opponents.

International concern over the Assad regime include an agreement by the European Union on Friday to broaden their sanctions against Syria, and to allow for future bans on business with Syrian banks or energy and telecommunications firms, EU diplomats said.

During a round of talks in Brussels on future sanctions against the government of President Bashar Assad, EU diplomats also confirmed plans to impose an embargo on imports of Syrian crude oil to Europe.

Pending a final confirmation by EU capitals, the import ban could be put in place as soon as next week, diplomats said.

Yaakov Katz contributed to this report.

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