The violent crackdown on Syrian civilian protestors has entered its eleventh month, and the Israeli intelligence community now considers the fall of Bashar al-Assad’s government all but inevitable, according to the Telegraph.
Al-Assad’s massive weapons stockpile includes chemical and biological weapons, surface-to-air missiles and high-trajectory long-range rockets – all considered threats to Israeli security. The weapons are currently under the care of government forces.
With Assad reportedly losing his grip on power, the danger grows that his weapons, including deadly chemical agents like sarin and VX, will fall into the hands of Sunni extremists or the Tehran-backed militant Shiite group Hezbollah, the Telegraph reports.
Israel Hayom, a newspaper closely aligned with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, recently quoted a high-ranking Israeli defense official who warned Syria that any transfer of WMDs to Lebanon would be tantamount to a declaration of war by the government in Beirut. The official added that Israel would act in order to prevent such a move.
Incoming Israeli Air Force Chief Major General Emir Eshel said that the unrest in Syria could precipitate a conflict on Israel’s northern border.
“The question is when, not if [Assad will fall]. And the big question is what will happen the following day,” Eshel said, the Telegraph reports. “What has been passed on to Hezbollah so far? What will be passed on in the future? What will be divided between the two factions in Syria?”