Israel is worried that the regime of Bashar al Assad in Syria will deliberately give chemical weapons to Hezbollah, which could lead to a major regional war.
Syria is thought to have large stockpiles of the nerve gases sarin and VX, in addition to mustard gas. There are four sites where the agents may be produced, including Al Safira, Latakia, Hama and the Center for Study and Scientific Research laboratories in Damascus, Sky News reports.
There are also potential storage sites for the weapons at Palmyra, Masyaf, Hama, Furqlus and Khan abu Shamat. In addition, biological weapons may be stored at Cerin, which also may have facilities capable of producing bioweapons like anthrax and botulism.
“As for Syria, we all hear the news…(if) Syrians…behave this way to their people it is clear…how they will behave towards us – to our sons – when they get the opportunity against us, with the largest chemical weapons arsenal in the world, with missiles and rockets that cover all of Israel,” Yair Naveh, the deputy chief of staff of the Israeli Defense Force, said, according to Sky News.
Experts at the Pentagon estimated that a force of 75,000 troops would be required to secure the chemical weapons arsenal. There is little chance that such a force could be mounted, given tensions with Iran over its nuclear weapons program.
“The truth is that no one has much of a clue what to do about Syria – it’s too well defended and too full of weapons of mass destruction to mean that there can be any meaningful military intervention,” a senior intelligence official, said, according to Sky News. “The Syrians may be doomed if Assad stays, and lots of others if he falls.”