Defense Minister Ehud Barak
Photo: Avihu Shapira
Syrian President Bashar Assad
Photo: AFP

Barak: Israel may seize advanced weapons in Syria

Defense minister tells Channel 10 IDF ordered to step up intelligence preparations in case it needs to prevent chemical weapons from reaching Hezbollah

Tensions mounting: Israel is preparing for a possible military intervention in Syria in case the Syrian government hands missiles or chemical weapons to Hezbollah, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Friday.


"I have instructed the military to increase its intelligence preparations and prepare what is needed so that... (if necessary)... we will be able to consider carrying out an operation," Barak said in an interview on Channel 10 News.


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"We are following... the possible transfer of advanced munitions systems, mainly anti-aircraft missiles or heavy ground-to-ground missiles, but there could also be a possibility of the transfer of chemical means (weapons) from Syria to Lebanon," he added.


"The moment (Syrian President Bashar Assad) starts to fall we will conduct intelligence monitoring and will liaise with other agencies," Barak said.


Rebels in Aleppo (Photo: EPA)


Hezbollah, which has in the past received military and financial support from Syria and Iran, launched thousands of mainly short-range rockets into Israel during the Second Lebanon War, but some longer-range rockets reached central Israel.


Their border has largely remained quiet since then.


Israel and the United States are closely monitoring any movement concerning Syria's chemical weapons' stockpiles, as concerns are growing that terror groups are taking advantage of the chaos in the country to seize them.


US intelligence services estimate that Syria's nonconventional weapons arsenal – considered the biggest in the world – includes stockpiles of mustard gas, VX and Sarin gas, as well as the missile and artillery systems to deliver them.


On Thursday, Barak toured the Golan Heights, a strategic plateau from which Israel can monitor movements inside the territory of its northern foe.


Barak said Israeli troops were also preparing to handle a possible influx of refugees: "They (refugees) have not chosen to come close to us, but in the event of the regime's downfall, which could happen... (Israeli forces) here are alert and ready, and if we have to stop waves of refugees, we will stop them," he said.


Battles have been raging in Damascus and Aleppo since noon Friday. Regime troops were able to regain control of the district of Midan in the southern part of Damascus on Friday. But rebels launched new fighting in several other districts of the capital, activists said


At least 100 people were killed in clashes across Syria on Friday, activists said.



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פרסום ראשון: 07.20.12, 23:41
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