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      Ya?alon: Iraq Moved its Chemical Weapons to Syria Before War

      Former IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Ya’alon said in an interview with the New York Sun on Thursday that Iraq moved its chemical weapons to Syria six weeks before the war started.

      By Scott Shiloh
      First Publish: 12/18/2005, 1:52 PM / Last Update: 12/18/2005, 2:55 PM

      "He transferred the chemical agents from Iraq to Syria,” said Ya’alon. “No one went to Syria to find it.”

      Ya’alon’s assertion that Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction were clandestinely sent to Syria on the eve of the war contradicts U.S. President George W. Bush’s statement last Wednesday at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C. Bush said then that “much of the intelligence” on Iraq “turned out to be wrong,” and that it appears that Saddam did not possess weapons of mass destruction.

      Despite his admission to what could be one of the greatest intelligence blunders of all time, Bush defended his decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power.

      “Given Saddam's history and the lessons of September the 11th, my decision to remove Saddam Hussein was the right decision. Saddam was a threat - and the American people and the world is better off because he is no longer in power,” said Bush.

      Ya’alon, who was IDF Chief of Staff from July 2002 to June 2005, speculated, however, in April 2004 that Iraq transferred its weapons “to another country, such as Syria.”

      Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has also contended that Iraq’s WMD were transferred from Iraq to Syria before the war. In December 2002, Sharon told Israel's Channel 2 Television that “chemical and biological weapons which Saddam is endeavoring to conceal have been moved from Iraq to Syria."

      Syria has long been known to be developing its own chemical weapons (CW) of mass destruction. In March 2004, former CIA director George Tenet told the Senate Armed Services Committee that "Damascus has an active CW development and testing program that relies on foreign suppliers for key controlled chemicals suitable for producing CW."

      A senior official in the Iraqi embassy, Entifadh Qanbar, generally supported Ya’alon’s claim that Iraq moved its chemical weapons to Syria, but said that his government “is basically operating in the dark” because it doesn’t control its own intelligence agency.