by Staff Writers
Jerusalem (AFP) Dec 4, 2012
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday Israel is closely tracking developments relating to chemical weapons in Syria, whose regime has been warned against using them in the country's uprising.
"Along with the international community, we are closely following developments in Syria related to its chemical weapons stockpiles," Netanyahu said in a statement from his office.
US President Barack Obama on Monday issued Syria's embattled President Bashar al-Assad a blunt warning not to use chemical weapons against his own people, following US warnings his forces were mixing deadly sarin gas.
"I heard President Obama's important remarks on the subject and we see things the same way," said Netanyahu. "We believe these weapons must not be used and must not fall into the hands of terrorist elements."
Western powers on Tuesday warned there would be an immediate reaction to any use of chemical weapons as the NATO military alliance prepared to approve a Turkish request for Patriot missiles to protect its border with Syria.
Russia, the most powerful of the Assad regime's allies, has dismissed fears of Damascus using chemical weapons and warned that deploying the missiles risked pouring more arms into the region.
Syria itself has insisted it would never such arms against its own people.
More than 41,000 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The conflict erupted in March 2011 with peaceful democracy protests before transforming into an armed insurgency when the government began a bloody crackdown.
France will take strong stand on chemical arms: FM
Reports that Syria had moved stocks of chemical arms in recent days "have not been verified or confirmed," Fabius told journalists after talks with his NATO counterparts.
If there was confirmation of a Syrian chemical weapons threat "that would demand an immediate reaction from the international community," Fabius said.
"France has a very strong position, as do other countries" in NATO, he said just after the alliance agreed to Turkey's request to deploy Patriot missiles along its volatile border with Syria.
A US official told AFP Monday that Syria had begun mixing chemicals that could be used to make sarin, a deadly nerve agent, while CNN reported Damascus could use the gas in a limited artillery attack on advancing rebels.
Washington fears that battlefield advances by rebels could prompt Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to use chemical arms, or that stocks could find their way into the hands of groups hostile to the United States and its allies.
Fabius said the reports "are perhaps to be seen in the light of the fact that the forces of the Assad regime are losing ground. There could be a danger that the regime, feeling it is in danger, could think possibly" of using chemical arms.
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