A senior Israeli official on Wednesday said the IDF would strike an Islamic State-affiliated group operating near its border with Syria if there were any indication the jihadist group was testing or using chemical weapons.
According to a TV report on Tuesday, Israeli defense officials are concerned an IS offshoot based on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights may have recently acquired chemical weapons which once belonged to the Assad regime.
“Israel will not allow a terrorist organization like the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade to equip themselves with this type of capability,” the unnamed official told Channel 10 news Wednesday.
“If we see anything resembling experiments or other signs indicating operational capability of chemical weapons, Israel will not stand by — we will act to thwart such capabilities,” he said.
The report noted while the jihadist group was preoccupied with fighting other factions in the Syrian civil war and was not currently concerned with Israel, officials were closely monitoring the group, fearing it may be planning to test the weapons’ capabilities.
The Islamic State’s possession of chemical weapons has been a major point of concern among Western governments.
Earlier this month, the group reportedly mounted a deadly gas attack against Syrian troops at a besieged eastern airbase.
On March 9, a suspected IS gas attack on the Iraqi town of Taza, south of Kirkuk, killed three children and wounded some 1,500 people, with injuries ranging from burns to rashes and respiratory problems.
While the chemical agents allegedly used by IS so far have been among their least effective weapons, the psychological impact on civilians is considerable.
A total of 25,000 people fled their homes in and around Taza last month, fearing another attack.
In February, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and CIA Director John Brennan for the first time openly accused the Islamic State group of using chemical weapons, including mustard gas, in Iraq and Syria.