Israeli intelligence alleges Syria holds chemical weapons
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) that is convened in Hague asked the Assad regime and Russia to confirm that all the chemical weapons the Syrian regime used during the civil war have been destroyed.
The director general of the OPCW, Fernando Arias, said the Assad regime has not yet uncovered its entire chemical weapons arsenal and has not allowed inspectors to operate in areas under its control.
Syria insists that it has destroyed all sorts of poisonous gases, yet Israeli intelligence organizations believe that Syria has kept a stockpile of chemical weapons.
Israeli sources say the U.S. is aware of this Syrian violation of UN resolution but has decided not to act.
The assessment is that the Assad regime keeps an unknown stock of nerve gas in some of its military compounds.
Last year, Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot, said that one of the targets hit by Israeli airstrikes in central Syria in early March, is believed to have been a chemical weapons production facility.
According to a report from the Begin – Sadat Center for Strategic Studies in Israel, there have been concerns among international observers that Syria has restarted its chemical program. "The regime led by Syrian President Bashar Assad has repeatedly used chemical weapons against its own Sunni citizens to conduct mass slaughter throughout the civil war." The report says.
The U.S has been briefed by Israel about the chemical weapons in Syria. The U.S. State Department chose not the blame Syria for keeping a stockpile of these chemical weapons but instead released a statement accusing the Damascus government of carrying out a chemical attack in a former rebel-held area in 2013.
Syria’s Foreign Ministry slammed the State Department’s accusation, saying the statement clearly reflects “the US continued hostile method against Syria which comes to cover its failure in Afghanistan and its support to terrorism that Syria encounters.”
It went on to say “The government of the Syrian Arab Republic reaffirms once again that it stands against the use of that kind of weapons in any place, at any time and under any circumstance and by any side as it is an issue that opposes Syria’s principles and moral.”
The attack at issue, took place during the Syrian civil war in the early hours of 21 August 2013, when opposition-controlled areas in Ghouta were struck by rockets containing the chemical agent sarin.
According to a report prepared by the Israeli institute for National Security Studies (INSS), Bashar al-Assad’s regime has used chemical weapons, mainly chlorine, dozens of times since the American missile strike on the al-Shuayrat airbase in Syria in April 2017. However, the chemical weapons attack on civilians in Duma (apparently chlorine mixed with nerve gas) by the regime on April 7, 2018 was the attack that drove U.S. President Donald Trump to launch a military operation on April 14, in conjunction with Britain.
Israeli intelligence time after time alleges that Syria continues to keep a stockpile of different chemical weapons.
Arie Egozi is a defence writer based in Israel.