TEL AVIV ø Israel's military leader has for the first time publicly asserted that Iraqi weapons of
mass destruction might have been sent to neighboring Syria.
Israeli Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Moshe Ya'alon explained the failure of
the U.S.-led coalition to find WMD in Iraq by saying Saddam Hussein's
biological and chemical weapons might have been transferred to Syria.
"Perhaps they were transferred to a neighboring country, such as Syria,"
Ya'alon told the Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot on Monday. "We very clearly
saw that something crossed into Syria."
Ya'alon said another possibility was that Iraq buried its WMD arsenal, Middle East Newsline reported.
He said he would have conducted the search for Iraqi WMD differently, but
did not elaborate.
It was the first time a high-level Israeli military official asserted
that Iraqi WMD could have been transferred to Syria. Last year, a similar
assertion was issued by the head of the U.S. National System for
Geospatial-Intelligence, Lt. Gen. James Clapper.
The Israeli chief of staff said the Saddam regime modified Iraqi
aircraft for CW attacks against Israeli targets in 2002. He said the
aircraft included Soviet-origin fighters as well as unmanned air vehicles.
"We identified them: UAVs, Tupolev-16s and Sukhoi," Ya'alon said. "They
were specially fitted for these kinds of missions ø dispersing chemical
weapons. We are talking about dozens or no more than hundreds of kilograms
Ya'alon said the U.S. military located the Iraqi modified aircraft by
the second day of the war in March 2003. The chief of staff said Israel had
relayed information critical to that mission.