16 פב' 2012 (כל היום)
Israeli defense officials and IDF Northern Command have quietly drawn up contingency plans in the event of a strike against Israel from Syria as the wounded and increasingly desperate regime of president Bashar Assad seeks to rally support from the Arab world. The IDF presence on Mount Hermon has been alerted to several possible scenarios and the area was recently toured personally by OC Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Yair Golan and commander of the Northern Corps Maj.-Gen. Gershon Hacohen. The concerns of an attack have been heightened lately by credible reports that Assad’s forces have used chemical weapons against his own people, an indication of desperation which decreases the likelihood that the regime would hesitate to use them against Israel. One of the few countries to not sign the Chemical Weapons Treaty, Syria is believed to have one of the largest stockpiles of mustard Gas, VX and Nerve Gas in the world.
Forces loyal to Assad continued their artillery assaults on Homs and Hama and launched incursions into the flashpoint city of Deraa on Thursday, despite an announcement the day before by Assad that he will hold a referendum on a new constitution in the near future, as well as elections. The announcement was scornfully dismissed by opposition groups and most Western governments.
“The truth is that Bashar Assad has increased the killing and slaughter in Syria. He has lost his legitimacy and we aren’t interested in his rotten constitutions, old or new,” Melhem Droubi, a member of the exiled opposition Syrian National Council and the Muslim Brotherhood, told Reuters.
“Promises of reforms have been usually followed by increase in brutality and have never been delivered upon by this regime since the beginning of peaceful demonstrations in Syria,” White House spokesperson Jay Carney said. “The Assad regime’s days are numbered.”
Meanwhile, the Chinese foreign ministry announced that Vice Foreign Minister Zhai Jun would visit Syria on Friday and Saturday to attempt a diplomatic solution.