Israel fears IS affiliate on Syrian border holds chemical weapons
Officials are monitoring the actions of the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade, believing they may be planning to test the deadly agents
An Israeli soldier stands on top of an armored personnel carrier stationed on the Israeli side of the Golan Heights on August 21, 2015. (AFP Photo/Ahmad Gharabli)
Defense officials are concerned that an Islamic State affiliate operating near the Syrian border with Israel has acquired chemicals weapons and may be planning to test them, Channel 10 news reported Tuesday.
The report said officials believed the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade, a terrorist group affiliated with the Islamic State and based on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, may have recently gotten its hands on chemical weapons which once belonged to the Assad regime.
Israel is closely monitoring the organization, and believes it may be planning tests of the weapons’ capabilities.
The Channel 10 report noted that the group was not currently concerned with Israel and was not directing offensive efforts against it, being preoccupied with fighting other groups in the Syrian civil war. Any chemical weaponry in their hands was thus not considered an immediate threat to Israelis. But officials fear this may well change in the future.
The Islamic State’s possession of chemical weapons has been a major point of concern among Western governments.
Earlier this month, the group reportedly mounted a deadly gas attack against Syrian troops at a besieged eastern airbase.
On March 9, a suspected IS gas attack on the Iraqi town of Taza, south of Kirkuk, killed three children and wounded some 1,500 people, with injuries ranging from burns to rashes and respiratory problems.
While the chemical agents allegedly used by IS so far have been among their least effective weapons, the psychological impact on civilians is considerable.
A total of 25,000 people fled their homes in and around Taza last month, fearing another attack.
AFP contributed to this report.