Israeli surveillance that spotted Syria preparing chemical bombs to load them on airplanes spurred President Barack Obama into action to win rare support from Russia to stop the plan, The New York Times reported Tuesday.
The report follows bits of information published over the past several weeks, according to which Syrian soldiers were spotted mixing chemicals, but details of Israeli surveillance and American involvement were not previously disclosed.
IDF commanders informed Washington in November, according to the newspaper, after satellite imagery showed Syrian soldiers filling 500-pound bombs with a substance that may have been the deadly “sarin” nerve gas.
Further reports by Israeli revealed that the bombs has been loaded onto vehicles near Syrian air bases, where Assad’s planes could use them within two hours, too late for the United States to intervene militarily.
The New York Times reported that “a remarkable show of international cooperation” over the civil war in Syria found Russia and China agreeing with the United States and working to stop Assad through diplomatic channels.
The report may explain analysts’ statements that Russia has taken control of Assad’s chemical weapons stockpiles.
The immediate threat of a chemical attack on Syrians has been averted, but the threat remains as Assad continues to follow the path of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and murdered Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, both of whom denied the reality of revolutions against their power.
One senior defense official told the New York newspaper that while Russia may have finally understood that Washington is prepared to intervene in the civil war if Assad uses chemical weapons, it is “ anyone’s guess” if Assad got the message.
Israeli civilians would be under a direct threat of a deadly chemical attack if Assad unleashes the weapons. Shifting winds could blow the chemicals over the Israel border.
Syrian opposition forces have shown vivid photos and videos of Syrians already having been exposed to chemical gas attacks.
Israel media have reported that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu recently traveled to Jordan to discuss how to deal with the chemical war threat from Syria, which could easily transfer the chemical bombs to Hizbullah, if it already has not done so.
Jeremy Binnie, a terrorism and insurgency specialist at IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly, was quoted by the Times as saying that Hizbullah terrorists “who got their hands on such munitions would find it difficult to deploy them effectively without the associated aircraft, artillery or rocket launcher systems. That said, Hizbullah would probably be able to deploy them effectively against Israel with a bit of help.”