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Saudi Daily: 'Chemical Weapons Smuggled to Hezbollah'

Syria has smuggled some of its chemical weapons to Hezbollah, according to a leading Saudi newspaper.
By Adam Ross
First Publish: 9/16/2013, 12:01 PM

Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah
Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah
AFP photo

President Bashar Al-Assad has smuggled part of his chemical weapons arsenal to Hezbollah in a bid to evade international inspection, the Saudi newspaper Al Watan reported Monday.

The report quoted Syrian National Coalition member Kamal al-Labwani as claiming that: "The Syrian regime has transferred some of its chemical weapons arsenal to its ally Hezbollah aboard trucks used to transport vegetables."

The article published Monday, also included a claim that the Assad regime had covertly moved significant parts of its chemical weapons aboard Russian ships docked along the Syrian coastline.

"We have credible information indicating that the Assad regime has smuggled part of its chemical arsenal to Russian ships in barrels," al-Labwani added.

Last week, Syria officially handed in a request to the United Nations to join the convention which which outlaws the production, stockpiling, and use of chemical weapons.

The regime led by President Bashar Al-Assad is widely believed to have used lethal sarin gas in an attack on a Damascus neighborhood on August 21, killing more than a thousand civilians including hundreds of children.  According to U.S. estimates, the Syrian regime has an arsenal  of 100 tonnes of chemical weapons.

Days after Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem pledged to sign the convention, intelligence reports indicated Assad had begun scattering his chemical stockpile to around 50 different sites across the country making them harder for the international community to track.

Another unconfirmed report claimed that the regime had begun moving its stockpiles to Iraq, although both the Syrian and Iraqi governments firmly denied the report.

But the prospect of chemical weapons in the hands of Syria's non-state ally Hezbollah will be of particular concern to Israel. 

The Iranian-backed terrorist group is sworn to Israel's destruction, and has repeatedly threatened the Jewish state with violent attacks. It has made good on those threats in recent years, including a recent border attack which wounded four IDF soldiers, and the infamous "Burgas Bombing" in 2012, in which Hezbollah-linked terrorists murdered 5 Israeli tourists and their Bulgarian bus driver in a bombing attack in Bulgaria. 

But intelligence experts have warned that Hezbollah is still seeking to carry out a large-scale attack in revenge for the assassination of its leading commander, Imad Mughniye, in 2008 - an attack which Hezbollah blamed on Israel, but for which Israel has neither confirmed nor denied responsibility.