Israel: Syrian Transfer of WMD to Hezbollah is Act of War

Tuesday, 24 Jul 2012 11:28 AM

By Jim Meyers

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Israel will act “decisively and without hesitation or restraint” if Syria transfers any chemical weapons to the terrorist organization Hezbollah, Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman declares.

Liberman also said Syria’s transfer of chemical weapons to Hezbollah would be a “justification for war.”

Speaking at a press conference at the EU-Israel Association Council meeting in Brussels on Tuesday, Liberman said the transfer of some of Syria’s stockpile of chemical and biological weapons to anti-Israel Hezbollah would make tensions in the region “a completely different ballgame,” adding that “we hope for the understanding and cooperation of the international community,” the Jerusalem Post reported.

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Also on Tuesday, Israeli Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz said that the Jewish state could face a large-scale conflict in the aftermath of an attack against Syria’s chemical weapons.

Gantz told the Israeli Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that the challenge for Israel is to identify the appropriate moment to take action, if needed, to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons and keep them from falling into the hands of terrorist groups like Hezbollah.

He said Syrian military forces are guarding the chemical weapons stockpile “and have even increased security so it will not fall into rogue hands, although this does not mean it will stay that way. We need to take into consideration what will remain after we act and whose hands it will fall into.”

Syria acknowledged for the first time on Monday that it had chemical and biological weapons and said it could use them if foreign countries intervened in the ongoing rebellion there.

Damascus has not signed a 1992 international convention that bans the use, production or stockpiling of chemical weapons, but Syrian officials in the past had denied it had any weapons stockpiles.

"Given the escalation of violence in Syria, and the regime's increasing attacks on their people, we remain very concerned about these weapons," White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said on Monday.

The Global Security website, which collects published intelligence reports and other data, says the weapons Syria produces include the nerve agents VX, sarin and tabun.

Gantz expressed concern that deteriorating conditions in Syria could threaten the military’s ability to safeguard the chemical weapons supplies, according to the Post.

Editor's Note: Join Former CIA Director Michael Hayden and Special Panel for Emergency Briefing

He noted that an estimated 12,000 Syrian soldiers and officers have already defected, including a number of senior officers.

“It is not just that they do not have commanders,” he said, “but it will also impact the soldiers’ performance over time.”



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