Saturday 22 July 2017

Israel is prepared to strike over Syria

Phoebe Greenwood in Tel Aviv

Israel's defence establishment has indicated it is prepared to take action should Syria's vast store of unconventional weapons fall into the hands of Hezbollah militants in Lebanon.

Tel Aviv said Syria's weaponry poses as great a threat to Israeli security as Iranian nuclear development.

As the violent government crackdown on Syrian civilian protesters enters its 11th month, Israeli intelligence now regards the fall of Bashar al-Assad and his regime as inevitable.

Syria's massive stockpile of weapons includes surface-to-air missiles, high-trajectory long-range rockets and missiles, and biological and chemical weapons, which are currently under the watchful guard of government troops.

Incoming Air Force Chief Major General Emir Eshel said: "The question is when, not if [Assad will fall]. And the big question is what will happen the following day.

"What has been passed on to Hezbollah so far? What will be passed on in the future? What will be divided between the two factions in Syria?"

War

An Israeli defence official was quoted last week in Israeli daily 'Israel Hayom', a paper closely affiliated with prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, warning that the transfer of chemical weaponry to Lebanon would be tantamount to a declaration of war by the Lebanese government, adding that Israel would act to prevent such a move.

Air Force Command Major General Ido Nechushtan has stated baldly that the volatile situation in Syria may lead to a conflict on Israel's northern border.

According to Arab media reports, Syria has already moved Scud missiles to Hezbollah camps in Lebanon and erected surface-to-air missiles in the Lebanese mountains.

Meanwhile, Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov claimed to have won a promise of a "cessation" of violence yesterday after meeting Mr Assad in Syria.

But Mr Lavrov's words were immediately undermined by the Syrian interior ministry, which pledged to press on with the offensive against "armed terrorist gangs" in the city of Homs.

"Operations to hunt down terrorist groups will continue until security and order are re-established in all neighbourhoods of Homs and its environs and until we overcome all armed persons terrorising citizens," said a statement. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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