Israeli ‘red lines’ being crossed in Syria and Iran

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sraeli intelligence officials say the moment is fast approaching when the country’s so-called “red line” triggers for military action in both Syria and Iran will have been crossed.

President Bashar al-Assad is already believed to have crossed the line in Syria by using chemical weapons.

And there is now a widely shared view within Israeli intelligence that Iran will have the option of a nuclear capability by the end of the year.

Analysts made clear at this week’s Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) conference at Tel Aviv University that Israel potentially faces two large-scale wars within months.

Amos Yadlin, the former commander of Israeli Military Intelligence, said of Iran: “We are headed toward a collision course by the end of this year.”

Mr Yadlin explained that by the summer it may be almost impossible for Israel to stop Iran developing nuclear weapons: “We have about two months to sleep soundly, until the Iranian elections. After that, I believe the Iranians will have to make a difficult decision.”

Meanwhile, Brigadier-General Itai Brun, commander of the IDF’s Military Intelligence Research Directorate, was unequivocal that “the Syrian regime has made use of chemical weapons”.

This has always been seen as a “red line” issue which would prompt Israeli military action.

According to Brig Gen Brun, photographic evidence indicates that Assad has “used deadly chemical substances in a number of cases against the rebels, most likely sarin gas.”

Israeli intelligence estimates that Syria has around 1,000 tons of chemical weapons. The main concern is that these and other advanced weapons could fall into the hands of Hizbollah and other jihadist movements.

US President Barack Obama warned the Syrians last August that using chemical weapons would be crossing “a red line”. Any verifiable use could force the Americans to abandon their policy of not intervening on the ground in Syria.

The US has been reticent in confirming the reports and Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday that he had “talked to Prime Minister Netanyahu this morning. I think it is fair for me to say that he was not in a position to confirm that… I don’t know yet whatthe facts are.”

Despite his public scepticism, Mr Kerry has asked Nato to prepare a plan to counter the Syrian chemical weapons network.

Israel has been warning its allies in recent weeks to exercise extreme caution in helping arm the Syrian rebels as many have been infiltrated by elements with ties to Al Qaeda and the weapons could be used against Israel.

Mr Netanyahu emphasised this in his meeting in London last week with David Cameron.

An Israeli official involved in the talks said: “Syria is rapidly becoming a black-hole that can suck us in and keep us busy for years to come”

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