IDF brass warns of Syria’s chemical weapon threat

Terrorists could get hold of WMDs if rebels capture Assad arsenals, Israeli deputy chief of staff says

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel.

Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Yair Naveh (left) and Kadima MK Shaul Mofaz in February. (photo credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash 90)
Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Yair Naveh (left) and Kadima MK Shaul Mofaz in February. (photo credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash 90)

Bashar Assad’s chemical weapon stockpile could fall into the hands of Syrian rebels, which would threaten Israeli national security, Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Yair Naveh warned.

“Syria’s chemical arsenal is the world’s largest, and it possesses missiles that can target the entirety of Israel’s territory,” Naveh said Sunday at a memorial event in Jerusalem honoring soldiers who fell in the Lebanon War.

The IDF “must not cease vigilance,” he said, lest such weapons fall into the hands of terrorist organizations operating in Syria, such as al-Qaeda or Hezbollah.

Naveh’s statements regarding chemical weapons and missiles came shortly after Syrian rebels reportedly commandeered a Syrian air force base near the city of Homs and took possession of a number of surface-to-air missile batteries.

The deputy chief of staff cautioned that the brutality displayed in Syria by the Assad regime against its own citizens could easily be directed toward Israel. “What the Syrians are doing to their people, they would do to us if they had a chance,” he said.

Naveh also noted Iran’s close ties with Syria and Hezbollah, saying that they “are accomplices of Iran, who stands behind them.”

Earlier on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also described the situation in Syria as “a massacre of civilians, including of children and the elderly, being carried out by the Syrian government with the backing of Iran and Hezbollah.”



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