Why shouldn’t Syria send its chemical weapons to Iraq? Where do you think they got them in the first place?
Syria has moved 20 trucks worth of equipment and material used for the manufacturing of chemical weapons into neighboring Iraq, the Lebanese daily Al-Mustaqbal reported on Sunday.
The government in Baghdad has denied allegations that it is helping the Syrian government conceal chemical stockpiles.
The report came just a day after the United States and Russia struck a deal stipulating that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime would destroy its chemical arsenal to avert an American military assault.
The newspaper reported that the trucks crossed the boundary separating Syria with Iraq over the course of Thursday and Friday. Border guards did not inspect the contents of the trucks, which raises suspicions that they contained illicit cargo, according to Al-Mustaqbal.
Last week, the head of the Free Syrian Army told CNN that opposition intelligence indicated Assad was moving chemical arms out of the country.
“Today, we have information that the regime began to move chemical materials and chemical weapons to Lebanon and to Iraq,” General Salim Idriss told CNN.
“We have told our friends that the regime has begun moving a part of its chemical weapons arsenal to Lebanon and Iraq. We told them do not be fooled,” Idris told reporters in Istanbul.
Hard for fools not to be fooled, General. It’s their nature.
But on a happier note, Syria exports more than sarin and VX:
Less than 160 km. from Damascus, a Syrian rebel lies in a hospital bed, an Israeli sentry at the door. Nearby a Syrian mother sits next to her daughter, shot in the back by a sniper.
What started this year as a trickle is now a steady flow of Syrians, scores of civilians and fighters wounded in the civil war and being discreetly brought across the Golan front line into Israel.
For all the advantages it brings of excellent medical care, it is a journey fraught with risk for those who fear the wrath of President Bashar Assad’s government.
“There was one man, where I am from, who was treated in Israel. The regime forces killed his three brothers,” the teenage girl’s mother said. “They will kill my sons and my husband if they ever find out we were here.”
For fear of retribution back home, Syrians in Israeli clinics who spoke to Reuters asked not to be named.
The woman’s 16-year-old daughter, whose wounds have left her paralyzed in both legs, lies stone-faced as an Israeli hospital clown juggles and dances, trying in vain to raise a smile.
I’ve given up wishing the whole world wake from its Jew-hating slumber to see Israel not only as a better nation relative to its neighbors, but as a good nation on an absolute scale. Such visions on my part are hallucinations, not wishes.
All I ask for is each person who reads these dispatches keep an open mind and judge for herself. It’s not too much to ask, and my ultimate wish may yet be granted.
Israel refuses to accept refugees from a country with which it is at war. But it does provide medical care, and it has made no secret of doing so.
The Nahariya hospital has treated more than 80 Syrians since March, around the time the Israeli military began taking in wounded Syrians who reach its lines seeking help.
The army does not reveal how the Syrians are brought over, nor whether it coordinates with rebels or others who deliver them into Israeli hands.
“This is a very sensitive issue and people’s lives are at stake,” a military spokeswoman said.
The Israeli army has set up a field hospital on a mountain ridge that overlooks a cluster of Syrian villages on the plain.
“We don’t know how they come in,” said Shukri Kassis, a doctor at Ziv Medical Center in Safed, 40 km. from the Syrian front line. “We just get notified by the army doctors that they are bringing them here.”
Kassis said his clinic had taken in more than 90 Syrians since February.
“They could be al-Qaida. We just don’t know,” one staff member said, adding that the men were being guarded for their own safety too – in case of disputes among patients.
“For us, Israel was always the enemy,” one Syrian woman from the southern city of Deraa said at Ziv, where she and her eight-year-old daughter were being treated after being caught in an explosion. “Thank God, I am happy here. I am well treated.”
The Free Syrian Army fighter said word of Israeli treatment was spreading back home: “I was happy when I found I was here,” he said. “Most fighters know they will get good care in Israel.”
Come on, if Syrian rebels accept Israel as decent and humane, how hard is it for the rest of you?