Israel warns of strike on Syria to prevent transfer of chemical weapons to terror groups

Washington, Jan. 28 (ANI): Israel could carry out a pre-emptive strike to stop Syria's chemical weapons from reaching Lebanon's Hezbollah or al Qaeda inspired groups, officials have said.

The warning came as the military moved a rocket defense system to a main northern city, and Israel's premier warned of dangers from both Syria and Iran.

According to CBS News, Israel has long expressed concerns that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, clinging to power during a 22-month civil war, could lose control over his chemical weapons.

Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom on Sunday said that Israel's top security officials held a special meeting last week to discuss Syria's chemical weapons arsenal.

Shalom told the Army Radio station that the transfer of weapons to violent groups, particularly the Iranian-backed Lebanese Hezbollah, would be a game changer.

Israel has kept out of the civil war that has engulfed Syria and killed more than 60,000 people, but it is concerned that violence could spill over from its northern border into Israel, the report said.

Israel deployed its Iron Dome rocket defense system in the northern city of Haifa on Sunday, but the military called the deployment 'routine'. The city was battered by Hezbollah rocket fire during a war in the summer of 2006.

Israel views Iran as an existential threat because of its nuclear and missile programs and support for violent anti-Israeli groups in Lebanon and Gaza, as well as repeated references by Iranian leaders to Israel's destruction.

Iran has denied it is seeking to build atomic weapons, insisting its nuclear program is for civilian purposes, the report added. (ANI)


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