Israel: Syria collapse has been discussed with US

Israeli leaders have discussed with visiting American envoys how to manage a Syrian government collapse, an Israeli official said Monday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opens the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem, Sunday, July 22, 2012. The Israeli government is asking the country�s Supreme Court to delay the evacuation of an unauthorized West Bank settlement outpost by a month. The court has ordered the Migron outpost dismantled by Aug. 1, 2012. (AP Photo/Gali Tbbon, Pool)

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli leaders have discussed with visiting American envoys how to manage a Syrian government collapse, an Israeli official said Monday, as Syria made an unprecedented admission of possessing weapons of mass destruction.

The reference to the chemical and biological weapons came in a threat to use them in case of a foreign attack. The open admission underlined Israel's concerns about the rapidly deteriorating regime of President Bashar Assad.

Israel and the U.S. are concerned that Syria's stockpile of chemical weapons could fall into the hands of Islamist militants should the regime in Damascus crumble. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Sunday that his country would "have to act" if necessary to safeguard this arsenal from rogue poachers.

Syria is believed to have nerve agents as well as mustard gas, Scud missiles capable of delivering these lethal chemicals and a variety of advanced conventional arms, including anti-tank rockets and late-model portable anti-aircraft missiles.

Asked if Israel and the U.S. had discussed managing a Syrian collapse, the Israeli government official said on Monday, "You can presume that these sorts of issues came up with American officials when they visited recently in Israel."

He gave no details and spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the contents of confidential discussions with reporters.

U.S. National Security Adviser Tom Donilon and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited Israel about a week ago, and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is expected in Israel next week.

On Sunday, senior Israeli Defense Ministry official Amos Gilad said the Assad government remains in control of its chemical arsenals at this point. Over the weekend, Israeli officials made it clear that Israel was readying options if that changes.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Israel's Channel 2 TV that he ordered the military "to prepare for a situation where we would have to weigh the possibility of carrying out an attack."

On Sunday, Netanyahu told Fox News that preventing Syria's weapons from reaching Iranian-backed Hezbollah militants in Lebanon was "something we'll have to act to stop if the need arises."

"Could you imagine Hezbollah, the people who are conducting with Iran all these terror attacks around the world — could you imagine them having chemical weapons? It would be like al-Qaida having chemical weapons," he said.

Asked whether Israel was prepared to act alone, Netanyahu said Syria's stockpile was a "common concern" and that "we'd have to see if there was a common action to address that concern."

Israel blames Hezbollah for a number of attacks plotted against Israeli and Jewish targets around the world in the past two years. Israel and Hezbollah fought to a standoff in a monthlong war in 2006.

Associated Press
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Join the Conversation!

To comment, the following rules must be followed:

  • No Obscenity, Profanity, Vulgarity, Racism or Violent Descriptions
  • No Negative Community Comparisons
  • No Fighting, Name-calling, or Personal Attacks
  • Multiple Accounts are Not Allowed
  • Stay on Story Topic

Comments may be monitored for inappropriate content, but the station is under no legal obligation to do so.
If you believe a comment violates the above rules, please use the Flagging Tool to alert a Moderator.
Flagging does not guarantee removal.

Multiple violations may result in account suspension.
Decisions to suspend or unsuspend accounts are made by Station Moderators.
Links require admin approval before posting.
Questions may be sent to webmaster@wvlt-tv.com. Please provide detailed information.

powered by Disqus

WVLT VOLUNTEER TV

6450 Papermill Drive Knoxville, TN 37919 Phone - (865) 450-8888; Fax - (865) 450-8869
Gray Television, Inc. - Copyright © 2014 WVLT-TV Inc. - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 163413296 - local8now.com/a?a=163413296