Israel would consider a military option against Syria to ensure that the country’s chemical weapons do not reach the hands of extremists, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday.
“Israel will do everything it takes to ensure Syria’s chemical weapons do not fall into the hands of terrorist organizations — and if such a situation arises, then Israel will weigh a military option,” Netanyahu told a group of European ambassadors in Jerusalem.
The prime minister also noted that Iran and Hezbollah have assisted Syrian President Bashar Assad in his 19-month crackdown against opposition groups.
The growing fear is that extremist fighters and other groups may get their hands on Syria’s vast chemical and biological weapons stockpiles if Assad falls. The threat of the weaponry falling into rebel hands has grown as the uprising has intensified in recent months, particularly after four members of Assad’s inner circle were killed in a Damascus suicide bombing in July. The US also reportedly recently sent a secret military task force to Jordan to prepare for possible scenarios in which the stockpiles get loose.
Also on Tuesday, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan held surprise talks in Azerbaijan with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on the Syrian uprising, Today’s Zaman reported. The meeting came amid the countries’ growing discord over how to grapple with the escalating Syrian conflict.
In an effort to end the bloodshed in Syria, the two leaders agreed to form new lines of communication and dialogue between their foreign ministries.
“We have agreed to bolster communication at the level of the foreign ministries to bridge differences over the unfolding Syrian conflict. The constant deliberation and communication would help to reduce differences,” Erdoğan said in a press conference after returning from Baku late on Tuesday, the Turkish paper added.