Iraq may be using Syria to hide
forbidden long-range surface-to-surface missiles and chemical and
biological weapons, the head of the Military Intelligence research
unit told the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on
In December 2002, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said
there was a possibility that Saddam Hussein had sent biological and
chemical weapons to Syria, in an effort to hide them from United
Nations weapons inspectors.
Brigadier General Yossi
Kuperwasser told the committee that the likelihood of an attack on
Israel was still low, given the current situation, but warned that
this could change in a very short space of time, for example, if
coalition troops found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq or
carried out a significant attack on a leading Iraqi official.
Haaretz reported in December 2002 that some Iraqi
equipment transferred from Iraq to Syria was apparently earmarked
for Hezbollah in Lebanon, to be used in opening a northern front
against Israel in the event of an American offensive in Iraq.
The shipments contained Iraqi rockets with a range of 100 to
150 kilometers, and possibly also various items that Iraq wanted to
hide in Lebanon.
In an interview with Channel Two television
in December, Sharon spoke of the possibility that Saddam Hussein had
had chemical and biological weapons smuggled to Syria in order to
hide them from United Nations weapons inspectors.
has received rockets from Syria before. But the previous shipments
contained Fatah and Tsumud rockets, whose range is no greater than
Iraq's efforts to hide weapons were focused
primarily on weapons of mass destruction, such as chemical or
biological weapons. The discovery of such weapons in Iraq would
provide the United States with a justification for its military
action and toppling Saddam Hussein's regime. But at the same time
that it is hiding its unconventional weapons, there were reports
last year that Iraq had been trying to increase the number of Scud
missiles at its disposal.
It is known, for instance, that
the missile cargo captured in late 2002 on a ship bound for Yemen
from North Korea was in fact destined for Iraq. The Americans
released the ship after Yemen promised to keep the missiles itself,
apparently to ensure Yemen's cooperation in the struggle against
In addition, the Syrians at one point tried to
find Scud missiles for Iraq. Given the Scuds' range, they were
obviously meant to be used against Israel in case of war, rather
than against other states in the region like Saudi Arabia.
The Syrian aid to Iraq - in making military purchases and
apparently also in hiding equipment - raises questions regarding
President Bashar Assad's willingness to jeopardize his relations
with the United States. On one hand, Damascus is making an effort to
help Washington with information about Al-Qaida, but on the other,
Baghdad is exerting economic pressure on it. In addition to helping
Iraq, Assad also takes a risk by sheltering and aiding terrorist
organizations like Islamic Jihad and Hamas, hiding behind the claim
that they only operate information offices in his