‘Hizbollah has chemical capability’

As Syria appears to be about to lose its strategic arsenal, Hizbollah has been trying, at least rhetorically, to resurrect the threat against Israel.

In an interview with Saudi newspaper Al Watan on Sunday, Khaled al-Dhaher, a Lebanese MP, warned that Hizbollah has 200,000 missiles near the Syrian border, some of which can be equipped with chemical warheads.

It is not clear what Mr Al-Dhaher was trying to achieve in the interview but, according to Israeli intelligence assessments, the Lebanese movement has around 60,000 medium and long-range missiles capable of hitting targets within Israel, and it does not currently have chemical capabilities. Israeli defence chiefs have warned that any attempt to bring “game-changing” weapons into Lebanon will be prevented by force.

Meanwhile, the US-Russia agreement on disarming Syria of its chemical weapons seems to be working for now, and international teams are already at work in the war-torn country.

According to the initial reports of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which began its work last week, the Assad regime is co-operating. A first team is already at work in Syria and a second team will be sent soon.

The OPCW say the Syrians have not only handed over detailed accounts of the chemical materials to be disposed of but have also begun destroying warheads, bombs and mixing equipment which would have been used to prepare and launch the weapons.

The surprising progress in the disarmament has even drawn praise for the Syrian regime from the American administration, with US Secretary of State John Kerry calling it “a good beginning”.

While Israeli leaders were initially sceptical over the deal, security officials admit that the destruction of Syria’s chemical arsenal will be a significant strategic achievement for Israel.

Last updated: 5:45pm, October 10 2013