US reportedly ‘trying to persuade’ Israel not to attack Syria’s unconventional weapons’ stockpiles
By Yitzhak Benhorin, AP
WASHINGTON – Concerns over the fate of Syria‘s unconventional weapons’ stockpiles are growing, as the West is perplexed by conflicting reports regarding their position and security.
Some media reports suggest that Syrian President Bashar Assad has begun moving the stockpiles; others say he may have used them against rebel forces; while others still say that Syria’s cache of chemical weapons – considered the largest in the world – is still under the regime’s tights hold.
Defense official Amos Gilad said Sunday that at this time, Syria remains in control of its chemical weapons arsenals.
In an interview with Army Radio Gilad said that Israel is concerned that Syria’s chemical stocks could be seized by Lebanese militants, Al-Qaeda-affiliated radicals or other unspecified “irresponsible elements” operating in Syria.
“Right now, they (the Syrians) are protecting these arsenals as best as they can,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Sunday Telegraph reported that US officials said that the US is closely monitoring the movements of part of the arsenal from storage bunkers to more secure sites earlier this month.
It is thought that Damascus shares Washington’s anxieties about the stocks falling into the wrong hands. “The US is also trying to persuade the Israelis not to invade or bomb Syria in an effort to destroy the stockpiles,” the British newspaper said.
“We believe Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile remains under Syrian government control,” said White House spokesman Tommy Vietor. But he added: “Given the escalation of violence in Syria and the regime’s increasing attacks on their people, we remain very concerned about these weapons.”
View original Ynet publication at: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4258591,00.html