Jerusalem does not believe the Assad regime would retaliate against Israel if it were hit by the United States in the wake of last Wednesday’s alleged use of chemical weapons.
A Syrian analyst, Bil’al Mekdad, warned on Syrian television Sunday that the United States “may be about to make a foolish mistake” and strike at Syria in response to the alleged chemical weapons attack by forces loyal to President Bashar Assad, which killed hundreds of civilians outside Damascus last week. If the regime were attacked, he said, it would hit back “directly” against Israel, because “it is the hand of Israel that steers America.”
Nonetheless, Israeli military sources indicated they did not consider that scenario likely, Israel’s Channel 2 news reported. “Israel’s estimation is that Assad would not retaliate against Israel,” the report said, stressing that Israel was taking various unspecified security precautions just in case.
Were Assad to strike at Israel, he would be unlikely to survive the forceful Israeli response, the report said, and this had been clarified to Assad.
Israeli media analysts noted that although some Syrian commentators have directly threatened Israel, no such threats had been made to date by senior government officials in Damascus.
Syrian rebel spokesmen on Sunday, meanwhile, vowed to gain control of Assad’s chemical weapons stockpiles, saying they had only refrained from doing so thus far because of the desire to avoid “plunging the country into chaos.” After last Wednesday’s events, however, they said in a video announcement, there was no longer any reason to hold back.
Rebel forces were reported to be seeking to advance toward one such chemical weapons depot east of Aleppo, without much success as of Sunday night.
Israel has repeatedly expressed concern over Assad’s chemical weapons falling into even more dangerous hands than those of the Syrian president.