Netanyahu: Monitoring Syrian Chemical Weapons Situation ‘Very Closely’

Signpost showing distance to Damascus from Jerusalem.

Israel is taking the potential use of chemical weapons in the Syrian civil war very seriously and are in “close consultations” with the US on the matter, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday. Speaking prior to a meeting with US Senator-elect Ted Cruz, Netanyahu was quoted by his office as saying, “We’re monitoring very closely the possibility of the use of chemical weapons in Syria.”

Israeli officials have been highlighting the dangers of Syrian chemical weapons in the light of the chaos in the country for months now. Of particular concern is the risk that such weapons could be acquired by terror groups such as Hezbollah or Al Qaeda-inspired groups fighting in Syria.

A number of world leaders have in recent weeks warned the Syrian authorities against using chemical weapons on their own people. The Syrian conflict between the Bashar al-Assad government and opposition forces has extended for roughly 21 months with thousands killed and many more displaced. Netanyahu emphasized the US’ shared concerns on the chemical weapons matter.

“President [Barack] Obama has spoken forcefully about this,” said Netanyahu of Syria using the weapons in the conflict. “Israel and the United States have close consultations about this issue and it highlights the dangers of these regimes receiving such weapons and these weapons can even go from there to terrorist organizations.”

Israel isn’t the only nation in the region that has expressed public anxiety over the weapons, as Jordan has also shared its concerns. Said Netanyahu, “This is a threat to Israel, a threat to America, a threat to others in this region. We treat it accordingly.”

In the past, Netanyahu has hinted at possible Israeli intervention should Syria attempt to transfer chemical weapons to Hezbollah terrorist forces in Lebanon.

US Confirms Scud Use

Meanwhile, as of last week the US State Department did not have an official update on the chemical weapons matter, but spokesman Patrick Ventrell did confirm on the record on Friday that Assad has used Scud missiles against his own people.

“Unfortunately, the U.S. Government does have information to confirm that the Assad regime has launched Scud missiles against targets inside of Syria,” said Ventrell, calling the move “truly a disproportionate military escalation and really a desperate act from this regime.”

Ventrell, in comments to reporters released by the State Department, said the Scud attacks show “the regime’s desperation and their utter disregard for the lives of their own citizens.”

While he did not give any new information on the chemical weapon situation, Ventrell did remind the reporters that the US has “been very clear about what a grave that mistake that would be.”

(By Joshua Spurlock,, December 17, 2012)