Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak on Thursday toured the Northern Command and the Golan Heights along with commanders stationed in the region and told reporters that the IDF is preparing for the possibility that waves of refugees will escape from Syria to the Golan Heights. “If required to stop waves of refugees, we will do so,” he stated.
Barak addressed recent occurrences in Syria, mainly the targeting of top security officials of Bashar al-Assad’s regime by oppositions forces. He said, “What happened yesterday in Damascus will greatly expedite the fall of the Assad family.”
Barak added that “those killed are closest to the regime. The blow is severe; it is severe to the radical axis, to the Iranians and to the Hezbollah terrorist organization, who are the only supporters of the Assad family.”
“The regime in Syria under the Assad family is weakening in front of our very eyes, and soon the Assad family will fall and nobody knows what will happen next,” added Barak. “We are concerned the disorder will bring to the downfall of sensitive systems: there are many chemical weapons in Syria, scattered throughout the country, and many weapons are possessed by civilians.”
The defense minister stressed that the IDF is following up on the possibility that once the Assad regime falls, the Hezbollah terrorist organization will try to transfer advanced weapons systems, heavy missiles and chemical weapons from Syria to Lebanon.
On Wednesday and Thursday, Israel’s Home Front Command, in conjunction with the various rescue and emergency bodies in Haifa, the largest city in northern Israel, conducted the largest home front drill ever held there. The exercise simulated hundreds of rockets striking the city, including direct hits on strategic buildings, most notably on Haifa’s Technion University, during which gas masks were distributed to residents in nearby areas.