Israeli airstrikes targeted chemical weapons in Syria – Report

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Explosion in Damascus area after IDF airstrike, June 8, 2021. (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights)

The move was made after reports suggested that Syria was rebuilding chemical weapons facilities.

Airstrikes allegedly launched by Israel into Syria in June were targeting chemical weapons facilities, The Washington Post revealed on Monday.

The move was deemed as unusual as Israel typically targets pro-Iranian militias based in Syria, and not Syrian military facilities.

The strikes, launched on June 8th of this year and March 5th of last, struck near Damascus and Homs, the latter specifically used as a chemical weapons production hub in the past.

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While Israel declined to comment after the fact, it was revealed weeks later by intelligence officials that the June airstrike was part of campaign to stop what could be an attempt by Syria to restart its chemical weapons operations.

An intelligence report suggested that a branch of Syria’s military had imported tricalcium phosphate, a chemical that – while it also has civilian use – can be used to make a number of deadly nerve agents. Worries grew, according to the Post, after activity to rebuild certain sites was spotted last year.

The March strike targeted a villa in Homs, following procurement of the gas by a division of Syria’s top military laboratory, which from the 1980s to 2014 oversaw the country’s chemical weapon production.

Following the strike, more sites were discovered.

The June strike targeted a military storage bunker in a village near Damascus, and two more sites near Homs, one of which, according to the Post, was a military laboratory. One of the seven military casualties reported was that of Ayham Ismail, a military engineer from the same military branch said to have procured the chemicals.

Syria’s ambassador to the UN in October condemned use of chemical agents and denied any use since 2013, despite reports of recent attacks against its own citizens in 2017 and 2018.

Repeated use of chemical weapons during the civil war led the Syria to be stripped of its member-voting rights by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, a global chemical watchdog.

(World Israel News).

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