Israel worried about fallout from Syria bombs (JERUSALEM POST) By YAAKOV KATZ, HERB KEINON 07/19/12)
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The suicide bombing that killed top members of Bashar Assad’s inner
circle “is a 7 on the Richter scale,” a senior defense official said
Wednesday, predicting that Assad’s days were numbered as leader of
A bomb in a Damascus security building on Wednesday killed Defense
Minister Daoud Rajha, former defense minister and senior military
official General Hassan Turkmani and Assad’s brother-in-law, Assef
Shawkat. Syria’s interior minister as well as several other officials
were seriously wounded in the attack.
In the afternoon, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and IDF Chief of Staff
Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz held consultations with officers from Military
Intelligence, Northern Command as well as the Military Advocate
General’s Office to discuss the events.
Barak spoke later Wednesday night with US Defense Secretary Leon
Panetta and updated him on Israel’s concerns regarding the situation
“We believe that the assassination of the top Syrian government
officials will speed up Assad’s downfall,” Barak told Panetta, who is
scheduled to visit Israel later this month. “We are also closely
tracking the possibility that Hezbollah will try to move advanced
military platforms or chemical weapons from Syria to Lebanon.”
In recent weeks, senior officials have said in meetings with foreign
guests that Israel is particularly concerned about one of three
scenarios. The first is concern about the transfer of Syria’s
chemical weapons to a third party like Hezbollah.
The second worrisome scenario is the fragmentation of the country,
whereby certain parties, or even a lone gunman, may gain access to
bases with chemical weapons or other weapons systems, and then try to
use them against Israel. For example, there are concerns that tanks –
or even airplanes – could fall into the hands of someone who will use
them against Israel.
The third scenario is the possibility that Assad – feeling his back
against the wall – will decide to take Israel down with him, and as a
result fire everything he has toward Israel.
“The entire country is in shock, and has been in shock for a year-and-
a-half, but what happened today is earth shattering,” a senior
defense official said. “Assad is living on borrowed time. He won’t
want to see himself hung in the town square.”
Assessments in the Israeli defense establishment are that Assad might
turn to Russia and ask for help in escaping the country.
Russia has significantly bolstered its naval presence in the
Mediterranean in recent weeks and remains a significant presence in
the port city of Tartus.
Vice Premier Silvan Shalom said on Israel Radio that Israel was
preparing for all contingencies, but would not become actively
involved in the developments in Syria. He said there were those who
wanted Israel to get involved precisely so they can blame anyone
receiving Israeli assistance for collaborating with Israel. (© 1995-
2011, The Jerusalem Post 07/19/12)
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