Israel Hit Chemical Weapons Site

In Syria

Israel: Doing the work that Americans and Europeans won’t do.

The Israeli attack last week on a Syrian convoy of antiaircraft weapons appears to have damaged the country’s main research center for work on biological and chemical weapons, according to American officials who are sorting through intelligence reports.

That complex, the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center, has been the target of American and Western sanctions for more than a decade because of intelligence suggesting that it was the training site for engineers who worked on chemical and biological weaponry.

A senior United States military official, asked about reports that the research center had been targeted, said that any damage was likely “due to the bombs which targeted the vehicles” carrying the antiaircraft weapons, and from “the secondary explosions from the missiles.”

Huh. Maybe they should be researching nicer things?

The Israelis had been silent on the issue until Sunday, when Ehud Barak, the departing Israeli defense minister, gave the first indirect confirmation of the attack at a security conference in Munich. While Mr. Barak said he could not “add anything to what you have read in the newspapers about what happened in Syria,” a moment later he referred to the events as “another proof that when we say something we mean it.”

“We say that we don’t think it should be allowed to bring advanced weapon systems into Lebanon, to Hezbollah, from Syria when Assad falls,” Mr. Barak told fellow defense ministers and other officials, referring to President Bashar al-Assad of Syria.

Mr. Assad also made his first public comment on the airstrike, saying on Sunday that Syria would confront any aggression against his country, according to The Associated Press.

The ease with which Israeli planes reached the Syrian capital appeared to send a message both to Mr. Assad and, indirectly, to Iran.

Israel has said that if it saw chemical weapons on the move, it would act to stop them. By hitting the research center, part of a military complex that is supposed to be protected by Russian-made antiaircraft defenses, Israel made it clear it was willing to risk direct intervention to keep weapons and missiles out of Hezbollah’s hands.

Actions speak louder than words.

- Aggie

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