Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres called for action against Syrian President Bashar Assad after his regime allegedly used chemical weapons against his own people.
Some Syrian opposition groups charge the Assad government with carrying out a chemical arms attack on Aug. 21 that killed about 1,300 residents of a Damascus suburb. The Syrian government denies the allegations.
“What happened in Syria is a terrible crime and a terrible tragedy,” Netanyahu said at the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem today, in remarks broadcast on Army Radio. “It cannot be allowed for the world’s most dangerous regimes to have the world’s most dangerous weapons.”
The U.S. and U.K. are now examining “all the options” in response to the Syrian government’s suspected use of chemical weapons, the office of Prime Minister David Cameron said in a statement after a phone call between the British leader and President Barack Obama.
“The time has come for a joint effort to remove all the chemical weapons from Syria,” Peres said today at a meeting in Jerusalem with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, according to an e-mailed statement from his office. “They cannot remain there, either in the hands of Assad, or of others.”
Netanyahu has said Israel will act as necessary to prevent the Assad government from transferring its chemical weapons and other advanced arms out of the country, possibly into the hands of Lebanon’s Hezbollah organization. Israel is believed to have carried out three air strikes this year against Syrian arms convoys and military installations, according to security analysts.
Minister of Intelligence Yuval Steinitz said today that while the chances that Syria would respond to a U.S.-led military action against it by striking at Israel were “relatively small,” Israel has to be prepared for the possibility. “We have to be ready both in terms of defense, and offense,” Steinitz said in remarks broadcast on Army Radio.
To contact the reporter on this story: Calev Ben-David in Jerusalem at firstname.lastname@example.org
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