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Thursday, 20 September 2007

Israel to Syria: Use chem weapons & we'll wipe you off map

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Thursday, September 20th 2007

BY MATTHEW KALMAN in Jerusalem and BILL HUTCHINSON in New York
DAILY NEWS WRITERS

Israeli officials vowed to wipe Syria off the map if it is attacked
with chemical weapons like one that reportedly exploded in July at a
secret Syrian base staffed with Iranian engineers.

Politicians in Israel said yesterday they were not picking a fight
with their neighbor, but pledged to forcefully retaliate if chemical
warheads come screaming across its shared border.

"We will not attack them first. But if they ever use these weapons
against Israel, then we must be clear — it will be the end of this
evil and brutal dictatorship," Yuval Steinitz, a right-wing member of
the Israeli parliament, told the Daily News yesterday.

Sparking shock waves across the Middle East was a report in Jane's
Defence Weekly about an accidental explosion at a top secret Syrian
base in July.

Citing Syrian intelligence sources, the report claimed a team of
Iranian and Syrian engineers were killed July 26 while trying to arm a
Scud-C missile with a mustard gas warhead.

Syrian official news agency, SANA, reported that least 15 Syrian
military personnel had been "martyred" and 50 others injured in the
blast near the northern city of Aleppo on the Turkish border. It
claimed the early morning explosion was caused by the high
temperatures.

The SANA report mentioned nothing of Iranian personnel killed in the mishap.

Jane's said dozens of Iranian workers were among those who died when a
fire in the missile's engine triggered the explosion and release of a
toxic cloud of lethal chemical agents banned under international law.

U.S. intelligence sources played down the report saying they've seen
no credible evidence chemical weapons were involved in the Syrian
accident.

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