According to a TV10 report, the Yarmouk Martyrs’ Brigade, identified with ISIS and operates in the southern Syrian Golan, may attempt to test-fire artillery or mortar shells with chemical agents attached.
Israel’s security apparatus is concerned that an Islamic State branch located on the other side of its border with Syria may have acquired chemical weapons and could be planning to test them, according to a Channel 10 report aired Tuesday evening.
Former IDF Intel Chief Amos Yadlin on the… by i24news-en
The Yarmouk Martyr’s Brigade is identified with IS and operates in the southern Syrian Golan. Israeli security officials estimate that the group may have got hold of the weapons as they were being transported out of the country, following Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s agreement to reduce his chemical stockpile.
The central fear, according to Channel 10, is that the Yarmouk Martyrs’ Brigade will attempt to test-fire artillery or mortar shells with chemical agents attached.
It is believed that IS has already used some of these weapons — mainly mustard gas and chlorine bombs — in Iraq and Syria.
Nonetheless, the current wisdom remains that these weapons for the time being will not be used against Israel, Channel 10 reports.
Meanwhile, the number of foreign fighters entering Iraq and Syria has plummeted over the past year, a US general said Tuesday.
Major General Peter Gersten told Pentagon reporters that when he arrived in Baghdad about a year ago, between 1,500 and 2,000 foreign fighters were joining the Islamic State group’s ranks each month.
“Now we have been fighting this enemy for a year, our estimates are down to 200 (per month) and we are actually seeing now an increase in the desertion rates of these fighters,” Gersten said.
The general attributed the drop in part to the US-led coalition’s continued attacks on the IS group’s cash-storage facilities.
He said the coalition has carried out about 20 such strikes that have blown up as much as $800 million worth of cash, much of it stashed in houses.
“We are seeing a fracturing in their morale, we are seeing their inability to pay, we are seeing the inability to fight,” Gersten claimed.
“We are watching them try to leave Daesh. In every single way, their morale is being broken,” he added, using an Arabic abbreviation for the IS group.
Gersten declined to provide an estimate on the overall size of the IS force, but this month Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken claimed the number was at its lowest ebb since the United States began monitoring the group in 2014.
That number has previously been estimated at between 20,000 and 31,500 foreign and local fighters.
In addition to hitting their cash stores, US planes and drones have targeted IS oil trucks and wells in a bid to further diminish their financial resources.
The United States has since August 2014 led a coalition attacking the IS group in Iraq and Syria.
(Staff with AFP)
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