Israel to Syria: Use Chem Weapons & We'll Wipe You Off Map
BY MATTHEW KALMAN in Jerusalem and BILL HUTCHINSON in New York
DAILY NEWS WRITERS

Thursday, September 20th 2007, 4:00 AM

Israeli officials vowed to wipe Syria off the map if it is attacked with chemical weapons like one that reportedly exploded in July at a secret Syrian base staffed with Iranian engineers.

Politicians in Israel said yesterday they were not picking a fight with their neighbor, but pledged to forcefully retaliate if chemical warheads come screaming across its shared border.

"We will not attack them first. But if they ever use these weapons against Israel, then we must be clear it will be the end of this evil and brutal dictatorship," Yuval Steinitz, a right-wing member of the Israeli parliament, told the Daily News yesterday.

Sparking shock waves across the Middle East was a report in Jane's Defence Weekly about an accidental explosion at a top secret Syrian base in July.

Citing Syrian intelligence sources, the report claimed a team of Iranian and Syrian engineers were killed July 26 while trying to arm a Scud-C missile with a mustard gas warhead.

Syrian official news agency, SANA, reported that least 15 Syrian military personnel had been "martyred" and 50 others injured in the blast near the northern city of Aleppo on the Turkish border. It claimed the early morning explosion was caused by the high temperatures.

The SANA report mentioned nothing of Iranian personnel killed in the mishap.

Jane's said dozens of Iranian workers were among those who died when a fire in the missile's engine triggered the explosion and release of a toxic cloud of lethal chemical agents banned under international law.

U.S. intelligence sources played down the report saying they've seen no credible evidence  chemical weapons were involved in the Syrian accident.

With James Gordon Meek in Washington


Original article: NY Daily News
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