The United States would notify Israel hours in advance of an attack on Syria, an Israeli official told the Reuters news agency on Sunday.
Asked how much advance notice Israel would get from its U.S. ally about a strike in Syria in response to a chemical attack in August, the Israeli official, who was briefed on contacts with Washington, told Reuters, “Hours.”
Israel is formally on the sidelines of the Syria crisis but fears coming under reprisals from Syria should the United States launch strikes to punish Damascus for its use of chemical weaponry.
President Barack Obama has asked Congress to approve strikes against Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad's government in response to a chemical weapons attack on August 21 that killed more than 1,400 Syrians.
CNN on the weekend aired footage from 13 short films shown by representatives of Obama to the American Senate, which apparently show the aftermath of chemical weapons attacks by the Assad regime against civilians.
Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon reiterated on Sunday that Israel will not intervene in the Syrian civil war unless Assad crosses the red lines that Israel has set.
“Assad very directly and clearly used chemical weapons against his people,” Yaalon said. “We are prepared for any scenario resulting from action in Syria, as well as from inaction.”
He stressed, “We will not interfere unless Syria crosses the red lines we have set. Our neighbors in Syria understand that if they challenge us, they will meet the strength and power of the IDF.”
At the weekly Israeli cabinet meeting on Sunday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu made no direct reference to the Syrian debate in the United States.
But Israeli officials have privately voiced concern U.S. failure to attack Syria would embolden Iran, an ally of Damascus, in its defiance of international calls to curb a nuclear program which the West fears is aimed at developing nuclear arms.