Israeli concerns over ISIS chemical attack threat from Syria

Israeli security chiefs are concerned about the possibility that an ISIS-affiliate in Syria will in the future deploy chemical weapons against Israel, according to a Channel Ten report.

The report said that the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade, which identifies with ISIS, has acquired some of Syrian President Assad’s chemical weapons arsenal. The group currently occupies abandoned United Nations’ outposts in the Syrian Golan Heights, adjacent to Israel’s border and their activities are being closely monitored. Although there is no fear of an immediate attack, with the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade currently engaged fighting other groups in Syria, Israeli defence officials are reportedly concerned that they could shift focus.

ISIS is thought to have carried out a gas attack on Syrian troops at an airbase in the east of the country earlier this month and is reported to have used chemical agents against civilians in Iraq. Meanwhile, Israeli leaders recently publicly admitted that air strikes have been carried out in Syria to counter threats to its security, namely by preventing the transfer of weaponry to Hezbollah.

Meanwhile, the United Nations’ (UN) Security Council yesterday said that despite the chaos in Syria, it does not recognise Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Israel captured the territory in the 1967 Six Day War, officially annexing it in 1981. Earlier this month, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that the area will always remain under Israeli sovereignty. It was interpreted by many as a message to the United States and Russia not to involve the Golan as part of Syrian peace talks in Geneva.

President of the UN Security Council, China’s UN Ambassador Liu Jieyi said that in a closed-door meeting “Council members expressed their deep concern over recent Israeli statements about the Golan, and stressed that the status of the Golan remains unchanged,” in which Israeli claims of sovereignty are considered “null and void.” Israel’s Foreign Ministry responded saying: “The Security Council’s announcement ignores the reality in Syria.”

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