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Friday, December 21, 2012

Did Israel Attack Hezbollah Chemical Weapons Sites? (Updated)

According to a recent Algemeiner report, in both October and late December 2012, there were mysterious explosions at Hezbollah arms depots in Baalbek and South Lebanon. The Kuwaiti website al Jaridi reported that Israel may have bombed the Southern Lebanon site because “Syria had transferred missiles there that were capable of being equipped with chemical warheads. The missiles had been moved into Lebanon from Syria in the last several months.” David Ignatius writing in the Washington Post earlier this week noted the threat of these unconventional weapons transfers from Syria to Iranian proxy Hezbollah:
What should we make of these reports? First, the Syrian chemical-warfare capability may be even more dangerous than people had thought, because the weapons can be moved to other locations and mixed en route. And, second, there’s a significant risk of proliferation to other groups, such as Hezbollah, which could pose a global terrorist threat.
Israel Hayom today had this comment from the chief of Israel’s Air Force, Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel:
The IDF has been closely monitoring chemical weapons in Syria, remaining alert to the possibility that the dangerous weapons may end up in the hands of Hezbollah.

"We are called upon to prepare for any possible scenario or threat, even in dealing with non-conventional weapons," Israel Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel said Wednesday. "This decision is for the country's decision makers to deliberate. But we provide the relevant capabilities so that if it is decided to use them, we are prepared."
Eshel said Syria's disintegration was "a known fact" and pointed out that Syria was in Israel's backyard.
"We need to prepare a response, and the IAF has a central role in this," Eshel said. "Chemical weapons is one area in which we are planning a response."
 It goes on to cite another source, Dr. Jill Bellamy van Aalst, CEO of Warfare Technology Analytics, as indicating that Israel believed that transfers from Syria to one or more Palestinian groups had already happened.


Updated; (Dec. 22, 2012): More from the Cutting Edge:
In the Washington Post Tuesday, David Ignatius wrote of a conversation he had with a source close to Syrian defectors who had ties to the chemical weapons program in Syria.
“According to the defector’s account, two senior Syrian officers moved about 100 kilograms of chemical weapons materials from a secret military base in January. The base was in a village called Nasiriyah, about 50 to 60 kilometers northeast of Damascus,” Ignatius writes.
“The Syrian source also described construction of special trucks, which could transport and mix the weapons, at a workshop in the Damascus suburb of Dummar. This workshop was part of a network of secret research facilities known in Arabic as the ‘Bohous.’”
Ignatius arrives at the same conclusion so many in the West have: Bashar al-Assad and chemical weapons are a major threat to the region.
“What should we make of these reports? First, the Syrian chemical-warfare capability may be even more dangerous than people had thought, because the weapons can be moved to other locations and mixed en route. And, second, there’s a significant risk of proliferation to other groups, such as Hezbollah, which could pose a global terrorist threat.”

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