The quickly deteriorating situation in Syria yesterday brought an explicit warning.
Israeli air force commander Maj Gen Amir Eshel said that if the Syrian regime were to suddenly collapse, Israel would be forced to undertake a massive attack “within hours”.
He said missions would include the destruction of vast stores of conventional and non-conventional weapons in Syria, to prevent them falling into the hands of militants, from Syria and elsewhere, and taking advantage of the chaos.
“If Syria collapses tomorrow, we could find ourselves acting very fast and in great numbers,” the air force chief said during a conference at the Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies.
“There is a huge arsenal parked there, just waiting to be looted. It could spread with each gust of wind and you will find yourself having to act very fast.”
Eshel said the Assad regime in Syria could fall at any moment and many groups were eager to lay their hands on its stockpiled weapons.
In the past, during confrontations in Lebanon, the air force used its force in a “surgical” manner. This time, it seems, the attacks will be “heavy”, to prevent the stockpile spreading, as happened after the Gaddafi regime in Libya collapsed.
There, the attempt to stop the looting of army bases failed and the arsenal, including a large number of anti-aircraft shoulder-launched missiles, found its way to terror organisations.
According to foreign media, Israel took a few measures, including long-range strikes by the air force, to stop these weapons from getting into Gaza.