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Israel fears Syrian missiles, nerve gas reaching Hezbollah

(Xinhua)

10:50, July 23, 2012

JERUSALEM, July 22 (Xinhua) -- Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Friday said that he has ordered the army to prepare to intervene should Syria start to transfer missiles and chemical weapons to the Lebanese group Hezbollah.

"Syria has advanced anti-aircraft missiles, surface-to-surface missiles and elements of chemical weapons," Barak told local Chanel 2 TV, adding that "I directed the Israel Defense Forces ( IDF) to prepare for a situation where we will need to consider the possibility of an attack."

Syria is believed to have the largest stockpile of chemical weapons in the Middle East, including Sarin nerve agents, cyanide, and blister agents like mustard gas.

"Clearly, Israel is very worried about the possibility that these weapons could be put in the hands of Hezbollah," Dr. Ely Karmon of the Interdisciplinary-Center in Herzliya told Xinhua on Sunday.

Hezbollah, classified by Israel as a terrorist organization, has vowed to destroy the Jewish state.

Israel and Hezbollah has fought a number of low and high- intensity wars over the years. During the latest in 2006, which began after a Hezbollah cross-border raid, the group fired over 4, 000 rockets into northern Israel, and a number towards areas closer to the center of the country.

ISRAELI CONCERNS

Karmon said Israel is primarily concerned about Hezbollah's weapon stockpile and presence in Syria. According to him, Hezbollah already has a huge weapon arsenal including long-range missiles that can reach anywhere in Israel and could be fitted with chemical weapon warheads. Since the war, Hezbollah is estimated to have expanded its weaponry to some 40,000 missiles and rockets.

Furthermore, Hezbollah not only has good relations with Syrian military commanders, but also has a "physical" presence in Syria, Karmon said, citing reports that the group is taking an active role in the Syrian fighting.

"So Hezbollah is the first (group) that would take advantage of the chaos and control these facilities and transport the chemical agents to Lebanon," Karmon said.

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