(Carl) Israel Radio is reporting (9:00 am) that Kuwaiti daily al-Watan reported in Thursday’s editions that Syria has already transferred chemical weapons to Syria, including more than two tons of mustard gas. According to the report, Syria has also transferred missiles with a 300-kilometer range that are capable of delivering the chemical weapons. The use of the weapons is being supervised by high-ranking Syrian officers stationed in Lebanon.
There is no confirmation of the report from other sources.
(US officials say Israel notified them of Syrian attack, target was sophisticated SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles) Although, Israel has not confirmed it, American officials have told the New York Times that Israel notified the US that it attacked a convoy of weapons headed for Hezbullah in Lebanon. The weapons in question were sophisticated SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles (Hat Tip: Herb G).
The American officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Israel had notified the United States about the attack, which the Syrian government condemned as an act of “arrogance and aggression.” Israel’s move demonstrated its determination to ensure that Hezbollah — its arch foe in the north — is unable to take advantage of the chaos in Syria to bolster its arsenal significantly.
The predawn strike was the first time in more than five years that Israel’s air force had attacked a target in Syria. While there was no expectation that the beleaguered Assad government had an interest in retaliating, the strike raised concerns that the Syrian civil war had continued to spread beyond its border.
In a statement, the Syrian military denied that a convoy had been struck. It said the attack had hit a scientific research facility in the Damascus suburbs that was used to improve Syria’s defenses, and called the attack “a flagrant breach of Syrian sovereignty and airspace.”
Israeli officials would not confirm the airstrike, a common tactic here. But it came after days of intense security consultations with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarding the possible movement of chemical and other weapons around Syria, and warnings that Jerusalem would take action to thwart any possible transfers to Hezbollah.Thousands of Israelis have crowded gas-mask distribution centers over the last two days. On Sunday, Israel deployed its Iron Dome missile defense system in the north, near Haifa, which was heavily bombed during the 2006 war with Lebanon.
(Carl) Matthew Levitt of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy explains why the SA-17’s matter.
“Israel is able to fly reconnaissance flights over Lebanon with impunity right now,” Mr. Levitt said. “This could cut into its ability to conduct aerial intelligence. The passing along of weapons to Hezbollah by the regime is a real concern.”
The SA-17 is an advanced antiaircraft missile with a low radar signature, which makes it difficult to target it. It possesses a range of approximately 25 kilometers, and the IAF considers them a danger to its freedom of operation in the region.
Syria’s chemical arms match Israel’s nuclear arsenal: defected general.(AA).The Syrian regime has a large arsenal of chemical weapons, which matches up to Israel’s nuclear arsenal, the defected former head of Syria’s chemical warfare program told Al Arabiya on Monday.
Major-General Adnan Sillu, who defected from the regime earlier this year, was party to top-levels talks about the use of chemical weapons on both rebel fighters and civilians.
He told Al Arabiya where the Syrian regime has stored its chemical weapons in specific cities across the war-torn country, highlighting chemical warehouses in the city of Homs and weapons stored also in scientific research center in Aleppo.
“Syria’s chemical arsenal has reached similar levels to Israel’s nuclear weapons,” he said in the interview. Israel is believed to be one of the world’s largest nuclear superpowers.
Sillu, who once led the army’s chemical weapons training program, said in June that the main storage sites for mustard gas and nerve agents are supposed to be guarded by thousands of Syrian troops but that they would be easily overrun.
“Probably anyone from the Free Syrian Army or any Islamic extremist group could take them over,” he said.
Recently, U.N. peacekeeping troops on the Golan Heights have said they were prepared in the event of Damascus using chemical weapons amid mounting unrest between the Syrian regime and the armed opposition.
Meanwhile, United Nations ambassador, Bashar Jaafari, told U.N. leaders in letters circulated Monday that opposition fighters might use chemical weapons against against civilians, and try to blame the regime of President -Assad.
The Pentagon has drawn up plans for responding to possible scenarios involving Syria’s chemical arms, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Friday during a visit to Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, about 60 miles from the Syrian border.Read the full story here.
al-Qaeda, Chemical weapons, free syrian army, Israel, Syria, Syrian muslim brotherhood
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would transfer the chemical weapons to the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah, a Syrian defected general told the Times of London.
Former Syrian general turned defector, Major-General Adnan Sillu, said that aside from plans to transfer weapons to Hezbollah, Syria had planned to use chemical weapons on the Syrian people, “as a last resort,” a report on the Israeli online edition of Haaretz said, quoting the Times.
“We were in a serious discussion about the use of chemical weapons, including how we would use them and in what areas,” Sillu said.
“We discussed this as a last resort — such as if the regime lost control of an important area such as Aleppo,” the General was quoted as saying.
The German weekly Der Spiegel on Monday claimed that Syria tested delivery systems for chemical weapons at the end of August.
“Five or six empty shells devised for delivering chemical agents were fired by tanks and aircraft, at a site called Diraiham in the desert near the village of Khanasir,” east of the city of Aleppo, Der Spiegel reported.
The Safira research center in question is regarded as Syria’s largest testing site for chemical weapons. It is officially referred to as a “scientific research center.”
Iranian officers, believed to be members of the Revolutionary Guards, were flown in by helicopter for the testing, according to the witness statements cited.
Scientists from Iran and North Korea are said to work in the expansive, fenced-off complex. According to Western intelligence agencies, they produce deadly chemical agents such as sarin and mustard gas.
If Assad feels desperate enough to use chemical weapons against Syrians in a last ditch effort, it seems likely that he would want to shoot a few rockets with chemical warheads towards Israel as well, to try to rally support. Most Arabs would cheer such a move, after all.
By the way, the Al Arabiya article was illustrated with this really good infographic, but I cannot find a larger version:
Syria placed long-range missiles equipped with chemical warheads on high alert after an attack on a Syrian nuclear plant in 2007, WikiLeaks documents obtained by Yedioth Ahronoth indicate.
In March 2008, then Prime Minister Ehud Olmet met with then Minority Leader of the US House of Representatives John Boehner and several US congressmen. Olmert addressed Operation Cast Lead which was in the final planning states and said that Israel had plans to cause considerable damage to Hamas in Gaza. He then added that the government was considering when and how to act.
…When confronted with a question on the attack on the Syrian nuclear plant in Deir ez Zor, the former prime minister said he never publically addressed the matter but noted the fact that gas tanks belonging to Israeli planes were found near the Syrian-Turkish border.
“Bashar is no dummy,” he added, since he decided not to respond to the September 2007 event. Olmert said that Syria’s mobile missile system were on full alert, but that Assad decided not to order them to fire. “That took discipline,” he noted.
US and Israeli intelligence agencies have tracked the WMD consignments from eastern Libya as far as Sudan in convoys secured by Iranian agents and Hizballah and Hamas guards. They are not believed to have reached their destinations in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, apparently waiting for an opportunity to get their deadly freights through without the US or Israel attacking and destroying them. Word of the capture touched off a scramble in Tehran and among the terrorist groups it sponsors to get hold of their first unconventional weapons. According to our sources, the rebels offloaded at least 2,000 artillery shells carrying mustard gas and 1,200 nerve gas shells for cash payment amounting to several million dollars. It is also not clear whether the shells and gases were assembled upon delivery or were travelling in separate containers. Our sources report that some of the poison gas may be intended not only for artillery use but also for drones which Hizballah recently acquired from Iran.