Israel: May act to stop Syria arms reaching Hezbollah

JERUSALEM Fri Jul 20, 2012 6:35pm EDT

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel said on Friday it would consider military action if needed to ensure Syrian missiles or chemical weapons did not reach President Bashar al-Assad's allies in Lebanon, the Shi'ite Islamist movement Hezbollah.

"I have instructed the military to increase its intelligence preparations and prepare what is needed so that ... (if necessary) ... we will be able to consider carrying out an operation," Defence Minister Ehud Barak said in an interview on Channel 10 television.

"We are following ... the possible transfer of advanced munitions systems, mainly anti-aircraft missiles or heavy ground-to-ground missiles, but there could also be a possibility of the transfer of chemical means (weapons) from Syria to Lebanon," said Barak.

"The moment (Assad) starts to fall we will conduct intelligence monitoring and will liaise with other agencies."

Hezbollah, which in the past has received military and financial support from Syria and Iran, launched thousands of mainly short-range rockets into Israel during the Jewish state's 2006 offensive in southern Lebanon. Some longer-range rockets reached central Israel.

The Israel-Lebanon border has been largely quiet since then.

Israel has accused Hezbollah and Iran of carrying out a suicide bombing in Bulgaria on Wednesday that killed five Israeli tourists at Burgas airport, a popular gateway to the Black Sea coast. Iran has denied any involvement.

On Thursday, Barak toured the Golan Heights, a strategic plateau that Israel captured from Syria in the Middle East war in 1967 and from where it can monitor movements inside its northern foe.

Syrian rebels assassinated four of Assad's closest aides in Damascus and seized three border crossings with Iraq and Turkey this week, putting the Syrian leader under greater pressure than at any time in the 16-month uprising against his rule.

(Writing by Ori Lewis, editing by Tim Pearce and Ralph Gowling)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (14)
snafu1949 wrote:
Syria has literally tons of WMD in biological and chemical weapons. You couldn’t possibly intercept all of them. Its a given that some of them will be smuggled out of Syria and put into the hands of terrorists. Syria is known to have bio weapons based on anthrax, plague, tulearemia, botulinium, smallpox, aflotoxin, cholera, ricin, and camelpox. Minute quantities that can be smuggled easily in the trunk of a car and can cause enormous damage and panic in a major city.

The time to have dealt with this potential nightmare was weeks ago. Saying that were going to hold people responsible if their used is a totally useless policy. The world is heading for pain, the world is heading for tears.

Jul 20, 2012 12:49am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Snaproll wrote:
Everyone is worried about the Syrian chemical weapons while at the same time we support the overthrow of the government by the Rebels. Isn’t that totally accomplishing what we say we don’t want ? Letting armed mobs, we know not who, get control of these chemicals. If we are really worried about them we should be supporting the government.

Jul 21, 2012 8:54am EDT  --  Report as abuse
digitus wrote:
Let’s see if some don’t already have Saddam’s name on them.

Jul 21, 2012 3:53pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

Pictures