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JERUSALEM: Any sign that Syria’s grip on its chemical weapons is slipping as it battles armed rebels could trigger Israeli military strikes, Israel’s vice premier said yesterday.
Silvan Shalom confirmed a media report that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had last week convened a meeting of security chiefs to discuss the civil war in Syria and the state of its suspected chemical arsenal.
Israel and Nato countries say Syria has stocks of chemical warfare agents at four sites. Syria is cagey about whether it has such arms but says if it had it would keep them secure and use them only to fend off foreign attack.
Should Lebanon’s Hezbollah guerrillas or rebels battling forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Al Assad obtain Syria’s chemical weapons, Shalom told Israel’s Army Radio: “It would dramatically change the capabilities of those organisations.” Such a development would be “a crossing of all red lines that would require a different approach, including even preventive operations,” he said, alluding to military intervention for which Israeli generals have said plans have been readied.