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Israel Preparing for Action in Syria, Says Former Mossad Chief

Former Mossad chief Danny Yatom: Israel is preparing for military action in Syria, if its chemical weapons end up in the hands of Hizbullah.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 7/13/2012, 5:15 AM

Danny Yatom
Danny Yatom
Flash 90

Former Mossad chief Danny Yatom said on Thursday that Israel is preparing for the possibility of military action in Syria, in case its chemical weapons were to end up in the hands of Hizbullah or other terrorist organizations in the region.

Yatom spoke to the British Sky News, which reported that Israel is deeply concerned that Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad may deliberately give Hizbullah chemical weapons or that they could end up in the hands of other terror groups

In either case, this could lead to a regional war, Yatom told the network.

“The conventional wisdom should be that we cannot exclude a non-conventional attack on Israel,” he said. “We would have to pre-empt in order to prevent it. We need to be prepared to launch even military attacks... and military attacks mean maybe a deterioration to war.”

Sky News reported that Middle Eastern and other intelligence sources say that Syria has the biggest stockpiles of the nerve gasses VX and Sarin, as well as mustard gas, in the Middle East.

Investigations by Sky News have identified four sites where the agents are produced: Hama, Latakia, Al Safira, near Aleppo and at the Centre D'Etude et Recherche Scientifique laboratories in Damascus.

Storage sites have also been found at Khan abu Shamat, Furqlus, Hama, Masyaf, Palmyra, the report said.

Biological weapons are believed to be stored at Cerin while there are also numerous 'dual use' civilian pharmaceutical laboratories which are capable of producing bio-weapons such as botulism and anthrax.

Al Qaeda-related groups are known to be operating inside Syria, and its leadership has frequently extolled members or followers to try to get hold of chemical weapons.

A top IDF officer said recently that Israel is “in preparations for the possibility of war and in the midst of deployment with the situation in Syria in mind.”

The greatest challenge facing Division 36, which is placed in the Golan, is the possibility of facing a surprise attack, said the officer, Brig. Gen. Tamir Heiman, Commander of Division 36. “The biggest concern is a combined terror attack and we are preparing for this in the Golan area.”

The essential changes that have taken place in Syria provide the potential for a terror attack coming out of Syria and crossing the border, which has been very quiet in recent years.

The IDF’s Northern District Commander Yair Golan has warned that the battle being waged in Syria between opponents of the Assad regime and Assad loyalists may have an effect on what is happening in Israel.

“Al-Qaeda related factors that are active there now and working against the regime may operate against us over time,” he said. “The Syrian threat to Israel requires attention. It will not happen tomorrow morning, but it can occur within a few months.”

Golan added, “Syria has weapons of mass destruction along with a very heavy arsenal of weapons, including surface-to-ground missiles and chemical weapons. The fact that Syria is a storehouse of weapons which fuels terrorists in the region is very unsettling.”