WASHINGTON – Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren told Fox News that should any chemical weapons reach Hezbollah, Israel would considered it a "red line" and a "game-changer" in the region.
Israel and the West are following the situation in Syria closely, as Syrian President Bashar Assad's hold on the war-torn country frays.
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Syria has the largest arsenal of chemical and biological weapons in the world. The escalating civil war has sparked concerns that Assad's WMDs may find their ways to terror groups such as Hezbollah; as well as concerns that the desperate ruler may use them on his own people.
"We're watching the situation very carefully. We have been watching it many months now and it's not new to us," Oren told Fox' Christopher Wallace, on Fox News Sunday.
"Syria has a varied, deep chemical weapons program. It's geographically dispersed as well and were those weapons to pass into the wrong hands, into Hezbollah's hands, for example, that would be a game changer for us."
Asked whether he had any information about the reports suggesting Assad's army had begun arming bombs with nonconventional weapons, Oren said that he could not confirm the reports.
El Saphira military facility in Syria
Israel, he said, "Has a very clear red line, about those chemical weapons, passing into the wrong hands. Can you imagine, if Hezbollah, with its 70,000 rockets, got its hands on chemical weapons, that could kill thousands of people."
US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton both said that any deployment or use of Damascus chemical weapons would constitute a red line for Washington.
Obama delivered a stern warning to the Syrian regime, saying that "If you make the tragic mistake of using these weapons, there will be consequences, and you will be held accountable." Clinton reiterated the warning.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also warned the Syrian president against committing an "outrageous crime" warning it would have "huge consequences." NATO joined in on the forewarning, saying that "Any use of chemical weapons by Syria's government would prompt an immediate international response."
Israel, Oren said "Support (Obama's) red line as well, and Prime Minister Netanyahu has come out publicly and supported President Obama's red lines regarding the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
"The Jihad presence is big and getting bigger. And the longer the conflict goes on there, the bigger it will get.
"We have long advocated for Bashar Assad's departure, long before, actually the outbreak of hostilities. We came to the administration, years ago and said Bashar Assad is too reckless. His father was, remember Hafez? He was reckless, but somehow predictable – reckless but somehow responsible. His son is reckless and irresponsible and ruthless."
Assad, Oren continued, "Has provided 70,000 rockets to Hezbollah in Lebanon, tens of thousands of rockets to terrorists everywhere. He had tried to create a nuclear facility, secretly. Hafez Assad probably would have never done something like that.
"So, he has to go. He is a loose cannon throughout the region and a danger to the entire region. If he goes now, we would view that as a positive development. He's an ally of Iran. He's an ally of Hezbollah. We understand that if Jihadists were to come in, it wouldn't be good. But, it perhaps wouldn't be as bad as the current situation."
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