National Security

Israeli official says Syria kept ‘significant’ chemical arsenal

Syria may have cache of missiles, rocket-propelled grenades

Bashar al-Assad
Bashar al-Assad / AP

Even though Syria has been pressured by foreign powers to give up materials to produce chemical weapons, Israel intelligence believes Syria has retained weapons that are combat-ready.

A senior Israeli official said that Syria has kept some missile warheads, air-dropped bombs and rocket-propelled grenades primed with toxins like sarin, according to a report from Israel Hayom

Using chemical weapons against Israeli targets, even on a small scale, the official said, "wouldn't be a game-changer–it would be a game-ender" for Syria.

"There is, to my mind, still in the hands of Syria a significant residual capability … that could be used in certain circumstances and could be potentially very serious," the official said.

The official declined to provide an estimate, citing secrecy concerns and the chance that some of the weapons could have been destroyed or used by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces.

"What we are saying is that there are a number of questions here that still have to be clarified, still have to be looked at very closely" by international inspectors.

He said that despite the weapons' existence, they have not gotten into the hands of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

"I haven't seen any information that they [the Islamic State group] have received them. I would not be surprised if they are interested, though, in receiving them," he said.