As Syria Unravels, Israel Threatens Hit on Chemical Weapons

Chemical arsenal won't be allowed to fall into Hezbollah's hands, officials warn

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 28, 2013 3:44 AM CST

(Newser) – Israel has warned that it will launch a strike to prevent Syrian chemical weapons from falling into the hands of Hezbollah or other extremists, the AP reports. Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom told reporters that top security officials met last week to discuss the threat Syria's chemical weapons pose. If they were transferred to extremist groups, "it would be crossing a line that would demand a different approach, including even action," he said.

  • Discussion of a pre-emptive strike came as part of Israel's "Iron Dome" missile defense battery was transferred to the northern city of Haifa, the New York Times reports. Officials claimed it was a part of a routine rotation, but journalists were skeptical. "Something is happening for sure," a security analyst with the country's Channel 2 News said. "Even in Israel, which is usually tense, and the normal nervousness that you have in this country, this is exceptional now."
  • As fighting raged in Damascus, Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev admitted that Bashar al-Assad's chances of staying in power are getting slimmer, Reuters reports. "I think that with every day, every week, and every month, the chances of his preservation are getting smaller and smaller," he said, but stressed that "this must be decided by the Syrian people."
  • In interviews yesterday, President Obama said he has been struggling with the question of whether to intervene in Syria. "I have to ask: can we make a difference in that situation?" he told the New Republic. "How would it affect our ability to support troops who are still in Afghanistan? What would be the aftermath of our involvement on the ground? Could it trigger even worse violence or the use of chemical weapons? What offers the best prospect of a stable post-Assad regime?"

An Israeli soldier on top of a tank overlooking the Syrian village of Bariqa, close to the Israel-Syria border.
An Israeli soldier on top of a tank overlooking the Syrian village of Bariqa, close to the Israel-Syria border.   (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit, File)
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The task for the United States, the Europeans and regional powers ... is to sit the parties down for negotiations, and not just demand that Assad go and then be executed like Gaddafi . - Russian Prime Minister
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