Israel sees no immediate threat from Syrian chemical weapons

JERUSALEM Sun Dec 9, 2012 6:18pm IST

Related Topics

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel does not perceive an immediate threat from Syria's chemical weapons, a senior Israeli official said on Sunday, after Western powers warned Damascus could use or lose such arms in the chaos of civil war.

As Syria's southern neighbour, Israel feels at risk from the deepening conflict and has said it would intervene to stop jihadi rebels or Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas seizing President Bashar al-Assad's chemical weapons.

"On these matters, we have to be prepared to protect ourselves, by ourselves," Vice Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon told Israel Radio. He added: "At this time, we see no sign that this weaponry is being pointed at us".

Yaalon is a former head of the Israeli Defense Force who is now in charge of strategic affairs in the government.

Some Israeli officials have voiced concern that Assad could attack the Jewish state with chemical weapons in a last stand to rally support from the Arab world.

U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said last week that Washington was worried an "increasingly desperate" Assad could use chemical weapons against rebels or lose control of them.

Israel and NATO countries say Syria has stocks of various chemical warfare agents at four sites.

Syria has been cagey about whether it has such weapons but insists that, if it had, it would keep them secure and use them only to fend off foreign foes. Though technically at war, Israel and Syria have not fought major battles in almost 40 years.

Rebels who have been fighting to topple Assad have recently overrun some Syrian military bases. Radical Islamist groups, including foreign jihadi fighters, are involved in the revolt.

(Reporting by Dan Williams; Editing by Tom Pfeiffer)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Boat Tragedy

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Ukraine Crisis

Ukraine Crisis

Three dead in east Ukraine, Putin warns of "abyss".  Full Article 

Xi's Master Plan

Xi's Master Plan

China's Xi purging corrupt officials to put own men in place - sources.  Full Article 

Missing Airliner

Missing Airliner

Search for Malaysia Airlines jet refocuses on drone scans of seafloor  Full Article 

U.S.-Japan Summit

U.S.-Japan Summit

Obama, Abe to battle negative images at U.S.-Japan summit.  Full Article 

Blogger Released

Blogger Released

China releases blogger on bail, jails another amid rumour crackdown   Full Article 

China Pollution

China Pollution

Beijing's bid to move polluting firms watched warily in nearby regions  Full Article 

Holy Week

Holy Week

The Christian faithful celebrate Holy Week, the week which leads into Easter Sunday.  Slideshow 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage