Israel warns of possible pre-emptive chemical weapons strike in Syria

israelIsrael could launch a pre-emptive strike to stop Syria’s chemical weapons from reaching Lebanon’s Hezbollah or al Qaeda inspired groups, officials said Sunday.

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.

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

Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom said Sunday that Israel’s top security officials held a special meeting last week to discuss Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal. The fact of the meeting, held the morning after a national election, had not been made public before.

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.

“It would be crossing a line that would demand a different approach, including even action,” he said. Asked whether this might mean a pre-emptive attack, he said: “We will have to make the decisions.”

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…

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