Wednesday, September 28th | 3 Tishri 5783

August 25, 2013 1:47 pm

Netanyahu Ties Syria Chemical Attack to Iran, Says Assad is ‘Full Iranian Client’

avatar by Joshua Levitt

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday tied reports of a mass chemical attack in Syria to “Iran, and Iran’s proxy, Hezbollah,” who, he said, “are there on the ground playing an active role assisting Syria.”

“Assad’s regime has become a full Iranian client” Netanyahu said, while “Syria has become Iran’s testing ground” to assess the world’s “reaction on the use of chemical weapons.”

Netanyahu said that the tragedy in Syria, where more than 100,000 people have died, was minor compared to what might happen if Iran were allowed to acquire even more deadly weapons.

“This demonstrates, yet again, that we simply cannot allow the world’s most dangerous regimes to acquire the world’s most dangerous weapons. In the end, the extremists use these weapons. So we must prevent them from having these weapons,” he said. “I speak here of course in the context of Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. Iran must not be allowed to get nuclear weapons. What is happening in Syria, simply demonstrates what will happen if Iran gets even deadlier weapons.”

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“What we see in Syria is how extremist regimes have no reservations whatsoever about using these weapons even when they use it against innocent civilians, against their own people,” Netanyahu said.

At the start of a meeting with France’s Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, Prime Minister Netanyahu, who is also Israel’s acting Foreign Minister, said: “I know that France shares our interest in the ongoing events in Syria that are tragic. I think what is going on there is a crime committed by the Syrian regime against its own people. It’s truly shocking. And these atrocities must stop.”

Netanyahu’s comments came amid increased concern in the region as representatives of international armies meet in Jordan to discuss a response after Syrian rebel forces claimed that Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad used chemical weapons in an attack on a rebel stronghold, in a suburb outside of Damascus, last week.

Netanyahu said the Israeli-Arab conflict is not at the core of regional unrest, but the result of the ongoing turmoil in the Arab world: “For too long people believed that the root cause of this instability in the Middle East was the Palestinian-Israeli problem. It is not the root cause; it’s one of its results. If we have peace with the Palestinians, the centrifuges will not stop spinning in Iran, the turmoil will not stop in Syria, the instability in North Africa will not cease, the attacks on the West will not cease.”

“We want peace for its own sake,” Netanyahu said, regarding peace talks between his government and the Palestinian Authority. But, the Prime Minister warned, “this will not put an end to the region’s problems. They are far too deep, they are far too many, they require much more complex solutions, but they require solutions.”

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